If you haven’t heard about Dropbox you have probably been living under a rock for the last month or two. It is the latest and the greatest file syncing project out there. I usually describe it to people as a cross between rsync and web 2.0 application. Only more intuitive. The concept is simple – Dropbox gives you a free 2GB of space on their server. You install their client, add a computer to your account and designate a folder on your drive. Anything in that folder will be automatically synced up with Dropbox’s server almost in real time. Trust me it is fast!
That’s not all though. If you add more than one computer to your account, Dropbox will automatically sync the files from all of them. So the latest change you do on your desktop will be seamlessly pushed out to your laptop, and your work computer. You don’t really have to do anything – you just save files into your dropbox folder and they get updated everywhere. And if you are away from your machines, you can access your files via their web interface. It’s great.
Naturally, you should be concerned with privacy issues but that’s what encryption is for. I wouldn’t put any sensitive data in that special folder without encrypting it first. But that’s besides the point. The service just works, and has clients for Windows, Apple and Linux. Well, almost.
Here is my problem with the service – the Linux client is heavily dependent on Gnome and Nautilus. This sucks for me, because I’m a die-hard KDE user who runs Kubuntu. I checked what it would take for me to install Nautilus and ended up with over 200 packages that needed to be downloaded. Nope! I’m not doing that. I decided to pass on the Gnome client and wait for a KDE or at least a command line version. There is a project to develop KDE client on Launchpad but it seems to be in very early stages of development. It might actually be abandoned or simply parked for future use. I have been checking it almost daily for like a week now, and I have yet to see any activity there.
So while my windows boxes have been seemlesly syncing school related files (ppt slides, handouts, etc..) my Kubuntu laptop was cut off from the fun. I had a client running in the Virtual Windows XP that I have on that machine but it’s not the same. It was annoying. Today my problem was solved by Mr. Deepak who wins 1 Internet for his solution which turned out to be astonishingly simple:
- Download the generic linux binaries
- Un-tar them and put the .dropbox-dist folder in your home diretory
- Run ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd to initiate the graphical configuration dialog, and add your computer to the account
- Finally do: ln -s ~/.dropbox.dist/dropboxd ~/.kde/Autostart/dropboxd to always run dropboxd daemon at login
No Gnome needed. You don’t get fancy little sync icons on your files, and you don’t get a taskbar doodad that will let you know whether or not the syncing up finished but the daemon works. Files are getting uploaded to the dropbox server without any issues or interruptions behind the scenes. I can’t believe I didn’t think of ever trying that. It was so simple!
Some Dolphin/Konqueror integration would be nice of course but I don’t mind dealing with background process magic for now. As long as my files are getting synced in the mysterious dropbox way I’m happy. Thanks Deepak!