Whole families and offices now share files with each other using the free Dropbox service, and now you can join the fun by installing Dropbox on Linux.
According to the official Dropbox.com website as I write this article, Dropbox is only officially supported on the Ubuntu and Fedora Linux distributions. If you don’t use either of those distributions, you may want to skim this section and move to the next section.
Start installing Dropbox on Linux by going to dropbox.com and clicking the install link. The Dropbox website will detect that you’re using Linux and give you five download choices: Ubuntu 32bit, Ubuntu 64bit, Fedora 32bit, Fedora 64bit, and Compile From Source. Download the appropriate version for your computer.
On Ubuntu, you can install the Dropbox .deb file by opening a terminal and typing
sudo dpkg -i nautilus-dropbox*.deb. On Fedora you can install the Dropbox .rpm file by opening a terminal and typing
sudo rpm -i nautilus-dropbox*.fedora.i386.rpm. After Dropbox is installed, log out of GNOME and log back in to fully enable Dropbox in your Nautilus file browser.
Dropbox on Linux: The Unofficial Way
If you don’t use Ubuntu or Fedora Linux, you can still share files with your friends and family using Dropbox—you just need to do a little extra work.
First you need to make sure you have some necessary packages. Use your package manager to see if you have Python 2.2 or greater and wget installed. You also need a Web browser (which I assume you have, since you’re reading this article).
Go to dropbox.com with your Web browser and download the Linux source package. You should get a file that ends in .tar.bz2. Most Linux users call this type a file a tarball—the Linux equivalent of a Windows zip file. To extract it, run the following command in your terminal:
tar xjf nautilus-dropbox*.tar.bz2
The command above should create a directory named
.dropbox-dist in your current directory. Now you need to start the Dropbox service by running the following command:
The service (also know as a daemon) will print a message similar to the sample shown below which prompts you to activate Dropbox on your computer. Be sure you to go to the URL your Dropbox gives you and not the URL shown in the sample below:
This client is not linked to any account... Please visit https://www.dropbox.com/cli_link?host_id=7d44a557aa58f285f2da0x67334d02c1 to link this machine.
Setup your Dropbox account using the instructions on the screen and it will create a
Dropbox folder in your home directory. Any files in this directory will automatically be synced with Dropbox’s server.
Dropbox on Linux: What To Do Next
Most new Dropbox users will want to take a few minutes to play around with Dropbox. Add files to your
~/Dropbox folder and watch as they quickly appear in the Dropbox Web interface. Find your friends and family members and start sharing files with them. Setup Dropbox on your smartphone and instantly sync files—for example, I sync my ebooks to my smartphone so I have something to read while waiting for appointments.
After you explore the basic Dropbox settings, there’s so much more you can do using Dropbox and scripts on Linux. For example, the official Dropbox wiki has contributed scripts that do all of the following:
- Control a remote Linux system using Dropbox and another Linux system. (Warning: this is only as secure as Dropbox, so be careful.)
- Press one button to do all of the following: take a screenshot, upload it Dropbox, share it on the web, create a shortened URL using bit.ly, and copy the URL to your Linux clipboard so you can paste it in an email, instant message, or Twitter or Facebook post.
- Automatically print files on your Linux computer as they appear in a Print sub-folder of your Dropbox.
Dropbox on Linux Versus Ubuntu One
A couple years ago, just as Dropbox was becoming fantastically popular, the makers of the Ubuntu Linux distribution created a Dropbox clone called Ubuntu One. Just like Dropbox, Ubuntu