On an Lubuntu 15.10 machine the Dropbox icon, which tells the state of the application and allows interaction, is missing.

When I start Dropbox, no matter if I'm using dropbox start, dropbox start -i or the lxpanel-bookmark, only a small camera icon appears in the "Indicator Applets"-section of lxpanel: Camera icon instead of dropbox icon

This is very annoying, since I always have to use the terminal to check on the status. What's the reason of this weird behavior? It used to work some time ago, I can't tell when it changed, probably a software update. Reinstalling doesn't work, and the icons exist in the ~/.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.x86-3.14.5/images/hicolor/16x16/status-directory.


10 Answers 10


Unfortunately, most of the answers here are pure voodoo and do not address the actual underlying issues, of which there are two (I'm writing this in part so that I don't forget it myself the next time I'm dealing with this).

Issue number one: Dropbox attempts to fit to whatever environment it runs under, so it does some autodetection work. It sometimes fails, as it's not been updated since 2015. This issue has been addressed by an updated /usr/bin/dropbox wrapper as shipped in Ubuntu's nautilus-dropbox package. So if you want to avoid part of the issues, use it, not the package Dropbox provides. If not, make sure XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP is set to Unity before Dropbox runs; the Ubuntu version of the package does this internally.

Issue number two: Dropbox is written using Qt, more precisely Qt5. Unity is based mostly on GTK+. Qt can use GTK+ styles, but the implementation has changed significantly in the recent year or so. Unfortunately, the default install of Ubuntu doesn't make it easy to use GTK+ styles from Qt, since QT_STYLE_OVERRIDE is by default set to gtk, which doesn't work as expected, and GTK+ styling fails to initialise, which leads to unavailability of everything based on GTK+ including the D-Bus menu interface, which is what makes the indicator work. Unsetting QT_STYLE_OVERRIDE or setting it to a valid value unbreaks Dropbox and makes the indicator appear again.

Update: Actually, it’s not an Ubuntu default, but something else may be setting the variable to a wrong value — in my case, it was ~/.xsession where I’ve put it some years ago and forgot about it. In any case, it is worth checking and possibly force-setting it to the correct value.

  • 1
    The other answer, dropbox stop && dbus-launch dropbox start works for me. superuser.com/a/1043469/379553 as of Lubuntu 18.04 LTS
    – tinlyx
    Jun 16, 2018 at 20:18
  • This is the only answer that works for me in XFCE on Ubuntu 18.04.
    – Robert
    Oct 10, 2018 at 15:06

Lubuntu 14.04 ....I have a few machines, all the same OS. One by one Dropbox icon dissappeared.

I have struggled for months. Couldn't recover icon. Got it now!

  1. In terminal type ... dropbox stop && dbus-launch dropbox start
  2. Follow the prompts, if any. Two of my machines responded "Dropbox not installed".
  3. sudo apt-get install dropbox
  4. Repeat line 1. Icon appeared. Didn't stay after re-boot.
  5. Repeat line 1, to get icon.
  6. Go to Preferences ...General, (Dropbox icon) and un-tick 'Start Dropbox on system startup'.
  7. Now to 'Default applications for LXSession' (menu ...Preferences)
  8. Under Autostart, un-tick any previous Dropbox attempts (these can be deleted later).
  9. Add dbus-launch dropbox start
  10. Re-boot.

There are some workarounds until the bug is fixed. The best one at this moment (working for Linux distros such as Xubuntu, Linux Mint, etc.) is:

dropbox stop && DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start

More details at another StackExchange site: Dropbox icon is not working Xubuntu 14.04 LTS 64 - Ask Ubuntu


And a more recent workaround that works for more Linux operating systems:

dropbox stop && dbus-launch dropbox start
  • 5
    Finally the solution, the second works for me
    – deFreitas
    May 11, 2016 at 2:54
  • The second solution worked for me as well, thanks! Still, I'll mark @ecosseman 's answer as accepted, since his answer is more detailed and describes a permanent fix.
    – LukeLR
    Jul 16, 2016 at 14:09
  • Finally, works for me too!!! Thank you. Simply stopping and starting the daemon wasn't doing anything to the icon.
    – Jimi Oke
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:07
  • Thanks, the second one worked for me too on Kubuntu. Jan 9, 2018 at 13:16

The solution for Lubuntu 17.04 is (assuming that you have downloaded a .deb file):

1) Make a copy of Dropbox autostart file:
cp ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop ~/.config/autostart/newstart_dropbox.desktop

2) Edit the file newstart_dropbox.desktop. Change the Exec= line to

Exec=dbus-launch dropbox start -i;

3) Copy the file in /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications/:

cp /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/

4)Edit the file that you copied to ~/.local/share/applications/ like you did in step 2. Change the Exec= line to

Exec=dbus-launch dropbox start -i

5) Disable Dropbox autostart, with the following command on terminal:

dropbox autostart n

Thanks for Andrew and the Wepup8 team for the tips.

  • 1
    works in ubuntu 16.06 too
    – user162573
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:42
  • 1
    – user162573
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:43

As I had the same problem with Debian 9 (cinnamon) after an upgrade, and here it is what I have done:
I edited the file /user/share/applications/desktop.dropbox and changed the line Exec=dropbox start -i to Exec=dbus-launch dropbox start -i.

Also added a line to delay the start of dropbox: X-GNOME-Autostart-Delay=30
I had to reboot as well.


Juan, I have found that neither of those workarounds is working specifically in Lubuntu. When I updated to Lubuntu 15.10, I got the same problem of a non-functional indicator area icon as described here: https://askubuntu.com/questions/732967/dropbox-icon-is-not-working-xubuntu-14-04-lts-64/739018#739018

However, the only thing I have found to work for Lubuntu is this:

  1. dropbox stop
  2. dbus-launch ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd
  3. That will start dropbox with the system tray ("notification area") icon, instead of the nonfunctional "indicator area" icon. So, go into Dropbox settings via the icon that should now be working, and TURN OFF the check box to start dropbox automatically. Also, just to be sure, issue the following in terminal:
  4. dropbox autostart n
  5. gksudo pcmanfm
  6. in the elevated-permissions file manager window, go to folder /bin and create a file called "dropbox-workaround-autostart". In it put:


dbus-launch ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd

  1. Right-click the file, and in permissions tab, make executable for Anyone.
  2. Go to Preferences>Default applications for LXSession>Autostart, and under the "manual" section input box, type the name of the file (dropbox-workaround-autostart) and hit add.

That's got it consistently working for me know. Hope that helps someone.

  • 1
    Launching Dropbox with dbus-launch causes the new-style indicator to work properly, rather than causing it to use the old-style X tray icon. Also, you don't need to make a new script in /bin for this (and you shouldn't be putting things in /bin anyway; use ~/.local/bin or /usr/local/bin). Just put the command dbus-launch dropbox start directly into the Autostart dialog.
    – user76780
    Mar 11, 2016 at 0:24
  • Your method probably works as well as @ecosseman 's answer, but I'll still mark his answer as accepted, since putting the dbus launch-command directly in the autostart manager is to be preferred over writing a script in /bin.
    – LukeLR
    Jul 16, 2016 at 14:11

I tested this on Lubuntu and worked perfectly.

cp ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop ~/.config/autostart/start_dropbox.desktop
sed -i 's/^Exec=.*/Exec=dbus-launch dropbox start -i/' ~/.config/autostart/start_dropbox.desktop
dropbox autostart n
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/applications/
cp /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/
sed -i 's/^Exec=.*/Exec=dbus-launch dropbox start -i/' ~/.local/share/applications/dropbox.desktop



I'm an Arch Linux user with GNOME3 Desktop. In my case I need to add some delay when audostart:

  1. Make a bash file anywhere you want. (e.g. ~/dropbox_delay.sh)

    sleep 30
  2. Give it an execute permission: chmod +x ~/dropbox_delay.sh

  3. In /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop file edit the following line (or a similar line starting with Exec=:



  4. Do the same in ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop.


If Dropbox is started as a cronjob need to set environment $DISPLAY for the display.

Add a test to see if X is running and if so set the $DISPLAY before restarting Dropbox.

If $DISPLAY is not set, script will restart Dropbox anyway.

Testing for $DISPLAY allows this script restart Dropbox while user is not logged into X.

Having this script run on start of X session will restart Dropbox and enable icon to appear

eg for ~/bin/dropbox-start.sh

if [[ $DISPLAY ]]
    then export DISPLAY=:0
dropbox stop &&
sleep 30 &&
dbus-launch dropbox start -i

Works for LinuxMint 17.3 running XFCE4


If the dropdown menu is not working, but the indicator is showing, while using MATE, try installing caja-dropbox instead of dropbox.

See: https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/caja-dropbox-not-showing-popup-menu-after-starting-mate-17-10/15780/4

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