Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor. When I describe my own trading activities, it is not intended as advice or solicitation of any kind.

19 October 2011

Applications: Dropbox

See Time For a Change for the first in this series, or check out the index for all the posts dealing with Arch Linux. Today I'll get Dropbox installed and configured, so all the files I like to have follow me around will continue to do so.

If I were using GNOME, installing Dropbox would be really easy: just go to the website, download the installer, run it, and it steps me through. If I were using GNOME within Ubuntu, it would be even easier yet: just select Dropbox in the Software Center and it installs it for me and keeps it up-to-date. But I'm using KDE under Arch, so things are a bit more complicated: Dropbox doesn't directly support KDE, and Arch doesn't directly support Dropbox.

Getting Dropbox installed and running is still pretty straightforward:

$ wget http://www.getdropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64 dropbox-dist.tar.gz
$ tar xf dropbox-dist.tar.gz
$ .dropbox-dist/dropboxd &

The first line downloads the latest version of the 64-bit distribution of Dropbox from their website and saves it as a recognizable archive file (.tar.gz files are the GNU/Linux equivalent of .zip files on Windows). Note: There is a space at the line break: "...lnx.x86_64   dropbox-dist.tar.gz". The next line extracts the contents of the archive, which automatically creates the whole .dropbox-dist/ subdirectory tree under the current directory (in this case, my home directory). And the last line starts the dropbox daemon in the background so it can ask me for my credentials and start downloading my files.

I get an error message about the Nautilus file manager (default in GNOME) not being installed, because Dropbox is designed to integrate with it like it does with File Explorer in Windows. It's not a big deal, although it is kind of nice to have the little green checkboxes and blue arrow badges on my Dropbox files so I know if there are any synchronizations outstanding. But I can also get that information from the Dropbox taskbar icon, which is fully functional in KDE. It also would be nice to get Dropbox to automatically keep itself up-to-date, but that's true of just about all of these hand-installed applications. Auto-updating is something I'll work on after I move in for good.

But having Dropbox automatically start when I log into KDE is important, because a file synchronization utility that isn't running also isn't synchronizing. To do this, I had to create a KDE "Desktop" file in the right place. I created a Desktop file when I installed ThinkOrSwim, too, by using the KDE Menu Editor. In that case, it stored the Desktop file in my Menu subdirectory so that the KDE Menu would load the information when I clicked the KDE Kicker button (similar to the "Start" Menu in Windows). But this time I decided to create the file by hand, because I wanted to understand how things worked.

In order to create a valid Desktop file, I first needed to understand the format. Google is my friend, and so I found this Desktop Entry Specification that answered my questions. That allowed me to create the file ~/.kde4/share/autostart/dropboxd.desktop with some degree of confidence:

[Desktop Entry]

This is pretty self-explanatory, I think, except for "Version", which refers to the version of the Desktop Entry Spec, not Dropbox itself. After a reboot to verify that Dropbox was auto-starting, I was all set.

Halfway there!

  • PasswordSafe for secure password management
  • Moneydance for personal finance DONE!
  • ThinkOrSwim for option trading DONE!
  • Minecraft - thought this would be easy, but it crashed on my first attempt
  • Dropbox for cloud storage DONE!
  • Kontact for e-mail, contacts, and calendar
  • Choqok for micro-blogging (following and posting to Twitter) DONE!
  • NixNote for notes/personal organization
  • Okteta hex editor DONE!
  • Bacula for automated backups

  • Next: Minecraft
    Or check out the Index

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