Recently Dropbox hit me with the following announcement:

Basic users have a three device limit as of March 2019.

Being the “basic” user, and relying on Dropbox across multiple machines, I got unreasonably upset (“How dare you deny me free access to your service?!”) and started looking for a replacement.

I already store quite a lot of things in Google Drive, so it seemed like a no brainer: I migrated all my machines to Google Drive overnight. There was but only one problem: Google Drive has official clients for Windows and Mac, but there’s nothing when it comes to Linux.

I found the Internets to be surprisingly sparse on the subject, and I had to try multiple solutions and spent more time than I’d like researching options.

The best solution for me turned out to be rclone, which mounts Google Drive as a directory. It requires rclone service to be constantly running in order to access the data, which is a plus for me - I’ve accidentally killed Dropbox daemon in the past and had to deal with conflicts in my files.

Install rclone (instructions):

curl | sudo bash

From then on, rclone website some documentation when it comes to the setup. I found it somewhat difficult to parse, so here it is paraphrased:

Launch rclone config and follow the prompts:

  • n) New remote
  • name> remote
  • Type of storage to configure: Google Drive
  • Leave client_id> and client_secret> blank
  • Scope: 1 \ Full access to all files
  • Leave root_folder_id> and service_account_file> blank
  • Use auto config? y
  • Configure this as a team drive? n
  • Is this OK? y

From here on, you can interact with your Google Drive by running rclone commands (e.g. rclone ls remote: to list top level files). But I am more interested in a continuous running service and mount is what I need:

rclone mount remote: $HOME/Drive

Now my Google Drive is accessible at ~/Drive. All that’s left is to make sure the directory is mounted on startup.

For Ubuntu/Debian, I added the following line to /etc/rc.local (before exit 0, and you need sudo access to edit the file):

rclone mount remote: $HOME/Drive

For my i3 setup, all I needed was to add the following to ~/.config/i3/config:

exec rclone mount remote: $HOME/Drive

It’s been working without an issue for a couple of weeks now - and my migration from Dropbox turned out to be somewhat painless and quick.