How to Use Dropbox on Linux

Sync all your cloud-based files

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud-based syncing options available. Even with a free account, you can sync up to 2GB of files and folders from your desktop to the cloud. But don’t think this service is only available to macOS and Windows users. That’s right: Linux has enjoyed Dropbox support for quite some time. Even better, installing and using Dropbox on Linux is easy enough that nearly anyone (regardless of skill) can set it up.

Let’s walk through the process of installing and setting up Dropbox on Linux.

These instructions apply to Ubuntu Desktop 19.04, but Dropbox can be installed on most modern Linux distributions.

A Caveat

There is one caveat to Dropbox Linux support. As of 2018, Dropbox only supports unencrypted EXT4 file systems on Linux. Most basic installations of Linux will be of the unencrypted EXT4 type, so chances are you won’t have to worry. 

If you’re unsure, open a terminal window and issue the command df -Th. Within the command output, ou’ll see what filesystem type your operating system is running. Look at the Type column to make sure your primary drive (usually /dev/sda) is of the EXT4 type.

Screenshot of the df -Th command.

Installing Dropbox

We’re going to assume you’ve already gone through the process of creating a Dropbox account. Start by logging into that account. 

Once logged in, follow these steps for a successful installation:

  1. Select your Profile photo in the top right corner.

    Screenshot of the Dropbox profile button.
  2. Choose Install.

  3. Select 64-bit associated with Ubuntu.

    Screenshot of the 64-bit install button.
  4. When prompted, select Open with, and choose Software Install.

    Screenshot of installing Dropbox.
  5. Press OK.

  6. In the resulting window, press Install.

    Screenshot of the Install button in GNOME Software.
  7. When prompted, type your user password, and press Authenticate.

    Screenshot of the Authentication window.
  8. Allow the installation to complete and close the installer.

  9. When prompted, press Start Dropbox.

    Screenshot of the Start Dropbox button.
  10. When prompted press OK to download and install the Dropbox daemon.

    Screenshot of the Dropbox daemon installer.
  11. Allow the download and install to complete.

Once the daemon installation completes, your browser window will open, requiring you to connect your Dropbox account to your computer. To okay that, click Connect and you’re ready to continue on. You should now see the Dropbox icon in the GNOME upper panel. The  Dropbox installation is complete and you’re ready to start syncing. 

Using Dropbox

With the installation out of the way, open the Nautilus file manager and you’ll see the Dropbox directory listed. Any file or folder in that directory will automatically sync to your Dropbox account and any file/folder saved to your Dropbox account will automatically sync to that directory. You can either copy/paste files/folders into the Dropbox directory, or you can right-click any file/folder and select Dropbox > Move to Dropbox.

Screenshot of moving a file into the Dropbox directory.

Do note, this action will move the file or directory into Dropbox, not copy it. However, if this is a file you often work with, you’ll want it in that directory anyway.

Simplified Cloud Sync

And that’s the gist of installing and using Dropbox on Linux. Although there are desktop syncing services/apps that are more flexible than Dropbox, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more widely used. And with Linux support available, it’s a win-win for simplified cloud sync on the Linux desktop.

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