Is it possible to install Dropbox without root privileges in Linux?

I've tried to install it at my university, using the sources found here, but I seem to need to enter the root password (which of course, I don't know).


You don't give your distribution, but since you aren't installing as root it's probably not important. (The binaries are meant to be installed system-wide, so unless you can convince your system administrator to install the package, you'll need to compile and install to your home directory.)

Essentially, Dropbox's Linux client is two parts: a daemon, dropboxd, that provides a "per-user closed-source daemon process that makes sure your $HOME/Dropbox directory is properly synchronized", and a client that connects to the daemon and provides information. The binaries provided supply a Nautilus plugin for Gnome, although there are also CLI clients available.

You'll want to refer to Installing to a Text-Based Linux Environment, which includes links to the daemon binaries for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. If you don't need the Nautilus plugin, make use of the official Dropbox CLI script or a user-created alternative CLI script.

If you really want the Nautilus plugin, you'll need to build it from the source package, and install it to your home directory.

Untar the source package:

tar xjf nautilus-dropbox-0.6.1.tar.bz2 
cd nautilus-dropbox-0.6.1

Run the configure script; add the options you wnat, but you'll need the --prefix= option:

./configure --prefix=/home/<username>

If this fails, you'll probably need to grab headers for the libraries needed to compile the program: GTK 2.12, GLib 2.13, Nautilus 2.16, and Libnotify 0.4.4 (minimum versions; if you can match up the version provided by your system, you can avoid the actual compilation and just grab header files to install to your own ~/include directory).

Build and install the binaries; they should be installed to your home directory (eg ~/bin, ~/share, ~/lib, ~/man, etc).

make install

Note this is the basic process, and you may need to work through them a few times depending on what libraries and headers are available on your system. All of these steps are possible without root access, but you will have to modify any installations to install them to your home directory instead of system locations like /lib or /usr.

If you run into trouble, your best bet for finding help is the Dropbox forums.

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    +1: As a clarification: If it depends on anything that you don't have access to, you can install that in your home directory, that's what ~quack was saying. So lack of root isn't a deal breaker, but it can mean hours of manually compiling dependencies. – Satanicpuppy Nov 17 '09 at 15:00
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    indeed, thx for the clarification. installing software as non-root is perfectly possible, it just requires some work to get everything in the right place. – quack quixote Nov 17 '09 at 15:16
  • The link to Dropbox Wiki has changed, and it is now dropboxwiki.com/Text_Based_Linux – orryowr Feb 5 '13 at 17:34

On Ubuntu, just download the standard .deb package and using any archive tool find and extract dropbox file (which is a python script). Store it somewhere in your home directory, and run ~/dropbox start -i to install the daemon. That's it, working fine at my univeristy.

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The "Installing to a Text-Based Linux Environment" isn't working as I write this answer.

Simple command line install instructions can now be found on the Dropbox download page

Next, run the Dropbox daemon from the newly created .dropbox-dist folder.

$ ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd

Here you are:

  1. sharing any user-owned directory.
  2. running this as your standard user.

The steps are described on this blog post.

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  • Note that this is the same link in the OP. The instructions there should get you a fresh folder with an executable file ready to run, no root needed. – zero2cx Sep 24 '12 at 20:16

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