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What is Dropbox?

Dropbox is an web based file hosting service. It creates a folder in your home directory (usually ~/Dropbox) and monitors that folder and keeps it synced to the web and to other computers that you have installed Dropbox on. It's also a fairly handy way to upload files between your computer and RedBrick as it doesn't need your account details, it just requires that you link the client with your Dropbox account

Installing Dropbox on your RedBrick account

Dropbox can't be installed on RedBrick in the traditional way as it is a plugin for nautilus which isn't going to be installed on RedBrick any time soon. Instead, we'll download the Command Line Interface version.


Dropbox doesn't seem to run on minerva, it works fine on morpheus and azazel, carbon is untested. So ssh to one of these machines. Now, despite dropbox saying that the command line version uses the http_proxy variable, it actually uses the HTTP_PROXY variable, so lets set it correctly with:

export HTTP_PROXY=""

And now you're ready to start.


Grab the program from the dropbox website with:

wget -O dropbox.tar.gz ""

Extract it to ~/.dropbox-dist with:

tar -xvzf dropbox.tar.gz

Next, create a folder in your home directory called bin:

mkdir ~/bin

There's something nice about this folder, if you type echo $PATH into your shell, you'll notice that that folder has been added to the start of your $PATH. Your $PATH is the list of folders that your shell looks through (in order) when it tries to execute a program. For example, if in your ~/bin you have a program called ls and try to execute ls, your shell will execute ~/bin/ls, as opposed to the systems ls. This is the folder where we will install the Dropbox CLI. Execute the following:

wget -O ~/bin/dropbox ""

And make the program executable:

chmod 700 ~/bin/dropbox

Next, we'll start the dropbox daemon:


This will give you output similar to the screen shot below. Follow the link and sign into your account to link your account to the client.


After you've done this, press ctrl+c to kill it, as we're going to use the dropbox program we downloaded earlier to interact with the daemon from now on. Notice how you have a shiny new ~/Dropbox folder? Dropbox is now ready to go.

Using the dropbox script

If you use a shell that autocorrects, you may want to turn it off in the config file, as when in your home directory, the Dropbox folder may confuse it, when you actually meant the dropbox program in your ~/bin. To do this in zsh put the following in your ~/.zshrc

alias dropbox="nocorrect dropbox"

and then reload your config

source ~/.zshrc

To start the dropbox daemon with the dropbox program type:

dropbox start

Notice how with this we get our terminal back? The dropbox script daemonises the dropbox daemon so that you can continue doing things while it runs in the background. Handy, no? Other useful dropbox commands are:

dropbox status - See if the daemon is running or not
dropbox stop - Stop the dropbox daemon
dropbox autostart - Start the dropbox daemon as soon as you login.
dropbox help - A list of all the commands

Extending Dropbox

There are some pretty nice extensions for Dropbox, see for a list of some of them. They all come with their own documentation, so it shouldn't be too hard to use them.

Your Dropbox and your RedBrick Quota

Dropbox saves copies of your files to each copmuter it is linked to, so if you use your 2GB on dropbox you will need 2GB of space on your RedBrick account, if you need more space, contact the admins.