Dropbox is a web-based file hosting and synchronisation service.

User instructions

By default, Dropbox is not running. Before using it, you must first install it under your own account. To do so (and then to subsequently use it) select ‘Dropbox’ from the ‘Internet’ submenu of the main Xfce menu. Dropbox will then guide you through the install process, account setup and start running. By clicking on the dropbox icon in your notifitcation area, you can open the dropbox preferences and set or unset dropbox autostarting when you login to the desktop. You can also do this in the terminal by typing dropbox autostart y or dropbox autostart n.

If you have a large dropbox folder, I encourage you to store it on your workspace rather than in your home directory. In this way it won’t count toward your quota, and since it is synced online you already have a backup. Unfortunately there seems to be a bug in the dropbox client that prevents the “move” dialog in the client from working if a directory in a different disk is chosen. It seems the best way to get this working reliably (via Matthew Foulkes) is as follows:

  • Download the latest Linux version yourself from https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64
  • Place the downloaded file (currently called dropbox-lnx.x86_64-52.4.60.tar.gz) in /workspace/${USER} (${USER} is a shell variable automatically set to your user name).
  • Unpack the file there by typing tar -zxvf dropbox-lnx.x86_64-52.4.60.tar.gz. This will create the directory /workspace/${USER}/.dropbox-dist.
  • Download the dropbox.py python script from https://www.dropbox.com/download?dl=packages/dropbox.py and place a copy in ~/bin.
  • Make this executable by typing chmod +x ~/bin/dropbox.py.
  • Finally you can get the dropbox daemon to treat your workspace directory as your home directory by starting it as follows: HOME=/workspace/${USER} ~/bin/dropbox.py. You can add the line alias dropbox="HOME=/workspace/${USER} ~/bin/dropbox.py to your ~/.bashrc file so that you can start it correctly by simply typing dropbox in a terminal.


The Dropbox plugin for nautilus is GPL.

The Dropbox daemon is proprietary.

Admin notes

Installed via puppet using the .deb file from http://www.dropbox.com.

Note that the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/dropbox.list must be removed so that apt doesn’t use the Dropbox repository. According to the documentation, touching /etc/default/dropbox before installing should do this. It doesn’t.

The Dropbox daemon isn’t installed, as it is not designed to be run by root nor manage multiple user accounts nor on NFS servers. By far the easiest and most secure option is to leave it to users to install (which is simple) and the daemon is then under the user permissions on the relevant workstation.