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What does Dropbox do?
Dropbox is in the simplest terms, a remote file server that allows you to upload, download, and sync files from any machine you have that is associated with a Dropbox account (and has the Dropbox client installed). This means you can work on the same files from home, work, school, the coffee shop, without having to be on the same computer. And the Dropbox client makes this work so seamlessly that it's as if you are always working on the local machine.
Fortunately Dropbox has a client for Linux (as well as Windows and Mac). So not only are you able to work from multiple machines, but the machines can also run different operating system platforms.
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How does it work?
Linux Dropbox adds a daemon to the Nautilus file browser that syncs a particular folder on your local machine to your remote account. Thus when you drag a file into your ~/Dropbox folder, that folder will automatically sync with your Dropbox account (so long as the Dropbox daemon is running.)
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Getting and Installing
The easiest way to install Dropbox is to go to the Dropbox Linux page, click on the correct Dropbox binary package (they have binaries for Fedora 9, Ubuntu 8.04, as well as the source code.) If you click on the correct binary your installation system will automatically detect it and ask for your root (or sudo user) password, and install Dropbox. If you run a different distribution there are some people who are working on binary packages for them... so be patient.
Now, one of the first things you must know is that Dropbox requires the GNOME desktop. So without that installed, you will not be able to get Dropbox installed.
Once Dropbox is installed you can either log out of GNOME and log back in or you can issue the command killall nautilus and Nautilus will restart.
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When you start up Nautilus for the first time (with Dropbox installed), Nautilus will have to connect to dropbox.com and start the account wizard. Be patient. Once the Wizard starts you can enter you current account details or click to create a new Dropbox account.
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As I mentioned earlier, you can simply drag and drop files into the ~/Dropbox folder (or it's sub-folders) and they will sync with your Dropbox account. The syncing isn't instant, but it does happen quickly.
That is not the only means of adding files to your Dropbox account. If you log on via the web interface you can upload and download from there.
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Dropbox is an amazingly simple means of working or backing up remotely. And with a Linux client now available, Dropbox is a great solution for those working remotely in multiple environments. Give Dropbox a try... it will simplify your computing life.
Linux Applications: Dropbox
In this series I will highlight those Linux applications that are must haves for personal, school, or office use. And once you get to know them, you won't be able to go without them.