Dropbox

Dropbox Logo

Is your head in the clouds yet?

For years now, I have been waiting for Google’s promise of free online storage, called the “GDrive“. In the meantime Google (and it’s competitors) have made it much easier to store your data online in various ways (look at Picasa Web Albums, Google Docs, Gmail etc), but that is not quite the same.

With the current expansion of “cloud computing” –  yet another small step toward the Matrix becoming reality – it was just a matter of time to see new free cloud services emerging.

One of those cloud services made a click in my brain the moment I saw it. Dropbox gives you a free 2.5 GB of online “cloud” storage. As if this is not enough, the Dropbox folks increase your storage limit with 250MB increments – also for free – when you go through the Dropbox tutorial, and/or invide your friends to use the service as well. You can buy even more storage , if you need it.

What exactly does it do? Well, think of it as a two interconnected “boxes”, one on your own computer and the other on the Internet, in which you store your files. In fact, the manifestation of that “dropbox” is just a directory on your local computer. Everything in the local Dropbox is immediately synchronized with the server’s Dropbox. It is a real-time backup facility! Beware of modifying large files though – because any change to a file inside the Dropbox triggers it’s upload to the server. That will eat your bandwidth if the file would be hundreds of megabytes in size.

By installing Dropbox on another computer using the same account, you are able to access your online backup there as well. The Dropbox on the other computer will be synchronized with the server – i.e. all files on the server will be downloaded to that computer. Dropbox is intelligent enough to allow multiple people using the same Dropbox at the same time! If more than one person changes the same file (so that two versions of that file will be uploaded to  the server) you end up with all versions of the file being stored on the server with slightly changed filenames, nothing gets deleted. Bonus: the changed files that were uploaded to the server by the other person’s Dropbox, will find their way to your own local dropbox and vice versa. The synchronization works both ways.

I have been using Dropbox for a while now and it works very well for me. It is platform independent (clients for Linux, Windows and Mac are available).  It has built-in collaboration: you can share a directory in your Dropbox. When someone joins a shared folder, the folder appears inside their Dropbox, and syncs to their computers automatically. You can even make  files available to people who themselves have no dropbox account: one directory in your dropbox is considered “public”, and that is how it is named too. Every file in that directory is publicly accessible using a web browser.

In true alien tradition, I created a Slackware package which gives you the dropbox-client, a system tray applet. Depending on your DE, it will either start dolphin (in KDE4), or thunar (in XFCE), or whatever application is your default file manager when you click the applet’s icon. The first time this Dropbox client starts (from the system menu or by running /usr/bin/dropbox), you will be asked to fill in your account data and if you did not download the server component yourself, the client will proceed to download the binary closed-source dropbox server and install that to ~/.dropbox-dist/ (yes, the program lives in your homedirectory). Oh, I hear your “gulp!” but it is really basic stuff, and you will find it easy to setup.

If you do not care for a GUI because you run a server, you’re not left out in the cold. You can simply forget my package, and download the dropbox daemon yourself. There is a page on the Dropbox Wiki which explains the steps.

Enough talk! Get Dropbox at http://www.dropbox.com/ or even better, use my referral link http://db.tt/Rv5417bY to create your account. Using the referral gives you and me both an additional 500 MB of free online storage (up to a maximum of 16 GB bonus space).

And remember: backups are important! It can not be stressed enough. However, if you intend to save sensitive data in your dropbox, be sure to encrypt that first, for instance using KeePass or Truecrypt, both programs are cross-platform (Linux and Windows).

Take care,  Eric

19 thoughts on “Dropbox



  1. On slackware in the past I have used spideroak, who did have a slackware version of their software. I found it better than dropbox due to versioning, not being forced to create a separate set of folders, and a command line version for every action.
    I will have to get both installed to compare





  2. Thanks for the tip on this great service, and the Slackware package. I just installed and signed-up, and it was quite simple and fast. Seems to be working well! 🙂


  3. Pingback: Alien Pastures » Dropbox 1.0 is out

  4. Thank you, sir. Your Slackware package helped a lot. Didn’t want to mess with trying to install GNOME packages just to run Dropbox.



  5. OK, I decided to keep the SPAM post by this “freevlcdownload”guy instead of deleting it, so that I can warn against it.

    VLC is and will always be free to download, but please download it from the developers themselves, at http://videolan.org/ !

    All you will get from this “freevlcplayerdownload” site is a spam-ridden version of VLC. If you look closely at the web page, you will see that they do not once link to the actual VideoLAN web site, and they copied all their texts from the VLC documentation.
    Fecking bunch of spam cowboys, yuck!

    Eric


  6. Excellent post at Alien Pastures » Dropbox. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.


  7. Remote storage by 3rd-party services – yet another most stupid invention. I do not know so obscene word to label each and every client of such services.


  8. Hey FeyFre

    I am a “client” of such services. I do notforce you to use dropbox or any other service. This is not a public furum, this is my blog.Your insults are not wanted here. Further posts from you will not be accepted here, and will be deleted.

    Eric


  9. Actually, I find such service useful for syncing software collection among my computers. At least for some time it saved me from making an rsynced repository 🙂


  10. btw – the only thing about it which makes me sad is proprietary server app.

    Does the nautilus-dropbox have to be installed in it’s own directory, not a common /usr?


  11. uhm… hi there. I am completely new to Slackware and made the mistake to install dropbox as root (#dropbox start -i) – now i consequently got a dropbox-folder in /root… how do I undelete this thing? Sorry for such a stupid question…


  12. uhm… nevermind. Sorry for spamming: I just removed the dropbox-client-package, then killed the demon and deleted the folder in /root…



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