Dropbox Drops the Ball

I like use a secure file sharing service to move things around between myself, publishers, co-workers, and so  on. For years I’ve been using Dropbox and its directory syncing feature under Linux without any major hassles. I finally decided to pay them some money and get more storage space, and it was fine at first. But lately that all changed.

Backstory: I use Linux 14.04 LTS with the latest kernel updates (I try to be good about keeping things on the system up-to-date). This release isn’t set for EOL until April of 2019. The problem appears to be that someone at Dropbox decided to restrict the available download version of the end-user app to what the web site thinks is appropriate for the user’s OS. That’s fine, but now what the Dropbox website insists on serving out to me is an older version that Dropbox will not connect with.

To make a long story short, I was asked to perform a ludicrous number of steps to resolve the problem, none of which worked. All I wanted was a newer version of their app that would restore the sync function for me, and I didn’t want to have to chase down little config files and whatnot all over my system to do it. I’ve got other things to do. I finally gave up and decided to move on, and I’m now evaluating other file sharing services.

I also discovered that Dropbox gets itself entwined into a system in ways that I find to be somewhat worrisome. There are bits of it scattered about in dark corners, and my feeling is that it is more complicated than it really needs to be. Just using apt to remove Dropbox really doesn’t get it all, there will probably be something left over. This is likely a contributor to the problem I was having. I don’t think that putting stuff into a customer’s system that cannot also be automatically upgraded as necessary is not a good design decision.

I did learn how to completely remove Dropbox from a Linux system. Here are the steps if you want to do that (you may need to use sudo to stop the Dropbox daemon):

dropbox stop
dropbox status # Should report "not running"
sudo rm -rf ~/.dropbox-dist
sudo rm -rf /var/lib/dropbox
sudo rm -rf ~/.dropbox*
sudo apt-get remove nautilus-dropbox
sudo apt-get remove dropbox
sudo rm /etc/apt/source.d/dropbox

If you are using the /etc/apt/sources.list file instead of /etc/apt/source.d then edit the sources.list to remove any reference to dropbox. If you have a directory called /etc/apt/sources.list.d, then go into that and remove any Dropbox entries.

And that’s it. You should now be free of Dropbox. Any data you have on Dropbox.com will still be there, so you can pull it down manually as needed.

If Dropbox works for you, then great. It’s not a bad service, and the monthly rate for 1TB of storage isn’t unreasonable. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work for me any longer, and if I’m paying for a service I need customer support that is a bit more helpful.


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