Dropbox is a file sharing system with a GNU/Linux client. Use it to transparently sync files across computers and architectures. Simply drop files into your
~/Dropbox folder, and they will automatically sync to your centralized repository.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Autostart
- 3 Accessing the files without installing a sync client
- 4 Encrypting your Dropbox files
- 5 Multiple Dropbox instances
- 6 Dropbox on laptops
- 7 Troubleshooting
- 7.1 Using Dropbox with non-ext4 filesystems
- 7.2 Dropbox keeps saying Downloading files
- 7.3 Change the Dropbox location from the installation wizard
- 7.4 Context menu entries in file manager do not work
- 7.5 Connecting...
- 7.6 Dropbox does not start - "This is usually because of a permission error"
- 7.7 Proxy settings
- 7.8 Missing tray icon in GNOME
- After installing the package, you can start Dropbox from your application menu or run
dropboxfrom the command-line. The client icon will appear in the system tray.
- A pop-up will notify you that Dropbox is running from an unsupported location. Click on Don't ask again since you know that you have installed it from AUR rather than from the official homepage.
- Eventually a pop-up will ask you to log in to your Dropbox account or create a new account. Enter your credentials.
- After some time you will see a "Welcome to Dropbox" pop-up, which will give you the opportunity to view a short tour of Dropbox.
- Press the "Finish and go to My Dropbox".
Note that in order to access the GUI and the settings, the only way is via a tray icon. You need an X panel with a system tray or a standalone system tray application for that.
Prevent automatic updates
Since at least version 2.4.6 (see comments around 2013-11-06 on AUR), Dropbox has had an auto-update capability which downloads a new binary to the
~/.dropbox-dist/ folder. The service then attempts to hand over control to this binary and dies, causing systemd to re-start the service, generating a conflict and an endless loop of log-filling, CPU-eating misery.
A workaround is to prevent Dropbox from downloading the automatic update by creating the
~/.dropbox-dist/ folder and making it read-only:
$ rm -rf ~/.dropbox-dist $ install -dm0 ~/.dropbox-dist
This appears to be necessary for modern Dropbox clients to operate successfully from systemd on arch.
Also see the relevant Dropbox forum post.
In the Dropbox preferences, under the "General" tab there should be a "Start Dropbox on system startup" checkbox. Try checking this box and seeing if Dropbox starts automatically.
If that does not work, uncheck the box and use one of the following methods instead:
Autostart with your WM/DE
For KDE users, no further steps are required, as KDE saves running applications when logging out and restarts them automatically. Similarly for Xfce users, Dropbox will be restarted automatically next time you login since the
dropbox.desktop file has been placed in
For Cinnamon users, it's recommended to start Dropbox client by configuring Startup Applications with a little delay (Cinnamon issue #4396). Starting Dropbox with systemd works, running in background, but there's is no icon on systray due to some Cinnamon bugs (#481, #2846).
If that does not work, you can start the Dropbox sync client along with your window manager by adding
/usr/bin/dropbox & to your xinitrc (or
~/.config/openbox/autostart, depending on your setup).
Autostart on boot with systemd
To have Dropbox automatically start when your system boots, simply enable the systemd service, passing your username as the instance identifier. The service unit to be enabled takes the format
By default, running the service does not give you an icon in the system tray because it does not know which X display to use. If you want to have tray support, you must edit the provided service:
# systemctl edit dropbox@username
Autostart on login with systemd
If you want Dropbox to appear in your system tray, you will need to edit the service unit so that it knows which X display the system tray is in:
$ systemctl --user edit dropbox
Accessing the files without installing a sync client
If all you need is basic access to the files in your Dropbox, you can use the web interface at https://www.dropbox.com/ to upload and download files to your Dropbox. This can be a viable alternative to running a Dropbox daemon and mirroring all the files on your own machine.
Alternatively, the AUR package AUR provides a command-line interface to Dropbox similar to the GNU
Encrypting your Dropbox files
If you want to store sensitive data in your Dropbox, you should encrypt it before doing so. Syncing to Dropbox is encrypted, but all files are (for the time being) stored on the server unencrypted just as you put them in your Dropbox.
- Dropbox works with TrueCrypt, and after you initially uploaded the TrueCrypt volume to Dropbox, performance is quite okay, because Dropbox has a working binary diff.
- Another possibility is to use EncFS, which has the advantage that all files are encrypted separately, i.e. you do not have to determine in advance the size of the content you want to encrypt and your encrypted directory grows and shrinks while you add/delete/modify files in it. You can also mount an encrypted volume at startup using the
encfsto avoid having to input the passphrase, but note that your encrypted files are not secure from someone who has direct access to your computer.
- A third option is to use gocryptfs. It is similar to EncFS, except that gocryptfs uses authenticated encryption, for protecting both confidentiality and integrity (tamper-resistance) of the data.
Setup EncFS with Dropbox
Follow the Wiki instructions to install EncFS.
Assuming you have set your Dropbox directory as
Create a folder. Files you want synced to Dropbox will go in here.
$ mkdir ~/Private
Run the following and enter a password when asked:
$ encfs ~/Dropbox/Encrypted ~/Private
Your secure folder is ready for use; creating any file inside
~/Private will automatically encrypt it into
~/Dropbox/Encrypted, which will then be synced to your cloud storage.
To mount your EncFS folder on every boot, follow the instructions in the EncFS wiki page.
ENCFS6_CONFIGvariable and moving the
.encfs6.xmlfile to another location (like a USB stick), to help ensure that your encrypted data and the means to realistically decrypt it do not exist together online.
Multiple Dropbox instances
If you need to separate or distinguish your data, personal and work usage for example, you can subscribe to Dropbox with different email addresses and have their directories synced by different Dropbox instances running on a single machine.
The basic principle and general how-to are described in the Dropbox Wiki.
To summarize, you can setup new or additional instances with:
mkdir /path/to/.dropbox-alt-1 HOME=/path/to/.dropbox-alt-1 /usr/bin/dropbox start -i
Once that is done, stop any Dropbox instance still running and start them like this:
HOME=/path/to/.dropbox-alt-1 /path/to/.dropbox-alt-1/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd HOME=/path/to/.dropbox-alt-2 /path/to/.dropbox-alt-2/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd
Pay attention to use different
.../.dropbox-dist/dropboxd binaries. Even when setting a custom HOME value, the
/opt/dropbox/dropboxd wrappers allow only one instance and when started they will kill the one already running.
Dropbox on laptops
Dropbox itself is pretty good at dealing with connectivity problems. If you have a laptop and roam between different network environments, Dropbox will have problems reconnecting if you do not restart it. Try one of the methods described below first, if for some reason the problem remains, you may try one of these hackish solutions: , .
~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktopfile and thus from starting twice.
For netctl, use
ExecDownPre respectively in every network profile you use, or for example in
/etc/netctl/interfaces/wlan0 to start Dropbox automatically whenever profile on
wlan0 is active. Add '|| true' to your command to make sure netctl will bring up your profile, although Dropbox fails to start.
ExecUpPost="any other code; su -c 'DISPLAY=:0 /usr/bin/dropbox &' your_user || true" ExecDownPre="any other code; killall dropbox"
your_user has to be edited and
any other code; can be omitted if you do not have any. The above will make sure that Dropbox is running only if there is a network profile active.
Create the following file:
#!/bin/sh USER=''your_user'' status=$2 case $status in up) su -c 'DISPLAY=:0 /usr/bin/dropbox & ' $USER ;; down) killall dropbox ;; esac
or, for the systemd alternative:
#!/bin/sh USER=''your_user'' status=$2 case $status in up) systemctl start dropbox@$USER.service ;; down) systemctl stop dropbox@USER.service ;; esac
Do not forget to change scripts to be owned by root and to make them executable.
#!/usr/bin/env bash su -c 'DISPLAY=:0 /usr/bin/dbus-launch dropbox &' your_username
or, if you use Dropbox with systemd:
#!/usr/bin/env bash systemctl restart dropbox@<user>
#!/usr/bin/env bash killall dropbox
or, if you use Dropbox with systemd:
#!/usr/bin/env bash systemctl stop dropbox@<user>
Do not forget to make the above scripts executable.
Using Dropbox with non-ext4 filesystems
Workarounds have been created, see for exampleAUR. These workarounds are based on substituting the filesystem detection functions by the use of LD_PRELOAD.
It is also possible to create an ext4 formatted sparse file within a non-ext4 filesystem. It can then be mounted to the desired location for the Dropbox folder. On btrfs systems, it's recommended to disable copy-on-write.
Dropbox keeps saying Downloading files
But in fact now files are synced with your box. This problem is likely to appear when your Dropbox folder is located on a NTFS partition whose mount path contains spaces, or permissions are not set for that partition. See more in the forums. To resolve the problem pay attention to your entry in
/etc/fstab. Avoid spaces in the mount path and set write permissions with the "default_permissions" option:
UUID=01CD2ABB65E17DE0 /run/media/username/Windows ntfs-3g uid=username,gid=users,default_permissions 0 0
Change the Dropbox location from the installation wizard
Some users experience the problem during setting-up Dropbox that they cannot select a Dropbox folder other than
/home/username/Dropbox. In this case when the window for changing the path is shown , hit
Ctrl+l, enter the location (e.g. /mnt/data/Dropbox) and click on the Choose or Open button.
Several file managers such as Thunar, GNOME Files or its fork Nemo come with extensions that provide context menu entries for files and folders inside your Dropbox. Most of them will result in a browser action such as opening the file or folder in dropbox.com or sharing the link. If you experience these entries not working, then it is likely you have not set the
$BROWSER variable which Dropbox requires. See Environment variables for details.
It may happen that Dropbox cannot connect successfully because it was loaded before an internet connection was established. This can happen on wireless connections, or fast loading machines on wired networks. The best solution to this problem, for wired and wireless connections, is #Dropbox on laptops which will ensure that Dropbox is started only after the connection is established.
An alternative solution, for those not using netctl or NetworkManager, is to delay the startup of Dropbox:
cp ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop ~/.config/autostart/dropbox-delayed.desktop
- Prevent Dropbox from doing a standard autostart by unchecking Dropbox - Preferences - General - Start Dropbox on system startup. This removes
Exec=bash -c "sleep timeout && dropbox". Tweak the timeout parameter, the value of
3is a good start.
Dropbox does not start - "This is usually because of a permission error"
Make sure that you own Dropbox's directories before running the application. This includes
~/.dropbox- Dropbox's configuration directory
~/Dropbox- Dropbox's download directory (default)
You can ensure this by changing their owner with
This error could also be caused by
/var being full.
Dropbox's FAQ suggests that this error may be caused by misconfiguration and is fixed by (re)moving the current configuration folder
# mv ~/.dropbox ~/.dropbox.old
and restarting Dropbox.
Errors caused by running out of space
A common error that might happen is that there is no more available space on your
/var partitions. If this happens, Dropbox will crash on startup with the following error in its log:
Exception: Not a valid FileCache file
A detailed story of such an occurrence can be found in the forums. Make sure there is enough space available before launching Dropbox.
Another case is when the root partition is full:
OperationalError: database or disk is full
Check to see the available space on partitions with
Locale caused errors
dropbox with this code:
(You can also use a different value for LANG; it must be in the format "en_US.UTF-8")
This helps when running from a Bash script or Bash shell where
/etc/rc.d/functions has been loaded
Filesystem monitoring problem
If you have a lot of files to sync in your Dropbox folder, you might get the following error:
Unable to monitor filesystem Please run: echo 100000 | sudo tee /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches and restart Dropbox to correct the problem.
This can be fixed easily by adding
fs.inotify.max_user_watches = 100000
/etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf and then reload the kernel parameters
# sysctl --system
The easiest way to set Dropbox's proxy settings is by defining them manually in the Proxies tab of the Preferences window. Alternatively, you can also set it to 'Auto-detect' and then export your proxy server to the http_proxy env variable prior to starting Dropbox (HTTP_PROXY is also usable)
env http_proxy=http://your.proxy.here:port /usr/bin/dropbox
export http_proxy=http://your.proxy.here:port /usr/bin/dropbox
your.proxy.here:portas some other applications do.