Installing Dropbox on Linux with XFCE and Thunar File Manager

I’ve seen many “recipes” for doing this, including installing the nautilus-dropbox, which drags with it many unnecessary dependencies when using a Package Manager.

I use XFCE on Linux, because it is fast, stable and easy to use and expand with plugins. You can get some serious performance gains if your PC is sluggish by switching to XFCE instead of Gnome, KDE or god forbid, Windows!

I also depend upon Dropbox for my “cloud” service, because I need to be able to access and change my files from many different locations.
But by default Dropbox don’t come with a plugin for getting full support on XFCE’s default file manager “Thunar”.

You can install Dropbox “manually” on any Linux distribution, using a precompiled binary. To get and install the correct distribution for your platform you must make sure you have Wget installed, then you can execute these commands in a Terminal shell (or xterm):


cd ~ && wget -O - "" | tar xzf -
cd ~ && wget -O - "" | tar xzf -

This will change into your default $home directory and unarchive the needed files there.
BEWARE! The folder is hidden, so you won’t see anything in it called dropbox-dist if you don’t have “show hidden files” enabled, or apply the -a parameter to a ls command.

Now what you need to do is to start the Dropbox “deamon” that runs in the background and synchronizes your files. You do this by either dobble clicking the dropboxd script (NOT DROPBOX BUT DROPBOXD ) or running the following command in your Terminal:


This wil bring up a window, telling you to enter your credentials or create a new account.
Just follow the prompts to get it going.

Now you need to make sure XFCE starts the deamon each time you log into your account. You can do this in a number of ways, but the graphical way is easy enough for those not too comfortable with Linux. If you know any of the other ways, feel free to use them instead!

Go to your XFCE Menu and choose Settings -> Settings Manager
Then choose “Session and Startup”
Now, give a description and title of your choice, then choose to find a file to add to auto start.
Remember to right click and choose “Show hidden” in the file dialog, then select the “.dropbox-dist” folder and choose dropboxd:
Now you’re ready to use the basic functionality of Dropbox!
Now many tutorials end here, but if you like to have full Dropbox integration into the Thunar file manager, with right-click options. secondary menus, etc you need to download and compile a tiny add-on. Some distributions maybe have this in a Package Manager, but I don’t, so here it goes.
Go to:
And download the thunar-dropbox-0.2.0.tar.bz2 file, and extract it to some folder where you have full permissions.
Make sure you have the thunarx-2 and thunarx-2-dev packages installed in addition to developer packages for regular gcc development, like “build-essential” in Ubuntu etc.  If you get any errors about missing packages / tools, try to install them using your regular routines for installing applications.
Now, change into that folder from your Terminal session. (ex. cd /home/chris/Downloads/thunar-dropbox-0.2.0)
Then do the following:
./waf configure --prefix=/usr
This should produce the following output:

Checking for program gcc or cc : /usr/bin/gcc
Checking for program cpp : /usr/bin/cpp
Checking for program ar : /usr/bin/ar
Checking for program ranlib : /usr/bin/ranlib
Checking for gcc : ok
Checking for thunarx-2 : yes
Checking for gio-2.0 : yes
‘configure’ finished successfully (0.019s)

Now do:

./waf build
sudo ./waf install

Now, log out and in again or restart your computer, and you should be good to go!


Have Fun!



8 thoughts on “Installing Dropbox on Linux with XFCE and Thunar File Manager

  1. Thunar Dropbox doesn’t work for me. After installing Dropbox client and Maato’s plugin still no bloody context menu entries in Thunar. Driving me nuts at the moment…


  2. What distro were you using at the time of writing? I’m using Lubuntu 12.10 with Thunar as my file manager and have been having trouble with this. The thunarx-2 and thunarx-2-dev tip was helpful, other sites didn’t include this. Problem is, those packages aren’t in the repository. That’s a bit of a bummer, but I think I can handle going to website just to get a public link to a file. Anyway, good post.


    1. Oh, that’s a tough one to answer man… I’ve been using Ubuntu (Amongst others) since version 1.
      But my guess would be somewhere around 9.04 or something like that.
      The procedure should still be valid though…


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