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Enhance Linux VPS with Minimalistic Dropbox Sync

Created: Apr, 2016;

Last modified: Apr, 2016

Dropbox provides official proprietary daemon for Linux which works well in Desktop environment. However, for lean Linux VPS boxes with only command-line interface and limited RAM (and CPU), a better solution is needed.

Dropbox-Uploader, a BASH based Dropbox API wrapper, comes to help. The sync is manual and half-duplex, but is a lean solution.


The only dependence is cURL

sudo apt-get curl

and BASH.

Download the tool:

git clone https://github.com/andreafabrizi/Dropbox-Uploader.git

and run the script “dropbox_uploader.sh”. If it is the first time to run this script, it will walk you through the process to setup a Dropbox app. For convenience, I grant access to the whole Dropbox folder.

Design and Action

My design is to setup a master VPS shared folder, within which there are different sub-folders for different VPS boxes. The master VPS shared folder will be further shared with my Desktop Dropbox client so that I can exchange files between my local Desktop and other VPS boxes.

On my VPS, I create a file ~/.dropbox_addon_rc with the content below

and in ~/.bashrc add

if [ -f ~/.dropbox_addon_rc ]; then
    . ~/.dropbox_addon_rc

This will enable the half-duplex sync between local folder $HOME/vps_shared_$HOSTNAME and the remote Dropbox folder /vps_shared/vps_shared_$HOSTNAME. Note that, to make it more convenient, the names of local and remote folders are the same. Folder separation of different VPS instances is also implemented (but it is not the “isolation” in strict sense because each VPS box can still access the full Dropbox content).

On the first time use, initiate the setup with


and follow the instructions. This guide you to create an app key and secret, linking to your Dropbox account. I grant it the access to the whole Dropbox folder.

To initialize the folder on Dropbox server side, do

cd ~/vps_shared_$HOSTNAME
touch tmp.txt

This will create a folder at /vps_shared/vps_shared_$HOSTNAME on the Dropbox server side.

To pull contents from Dropbox server, type


and the content of the remote folder will merge with the local folder (meaning that the extra files will not be removed). So does dropbox_push. In that way, one can first pull and then push to sync the entire folder.

To upload a single file or folder to Dropbox, do

dropbox_push_single path_to_file_or_folder

Command dropbox_clear_local will remove all files in local folder (~/vps_shared_$HOSTNAME). Command dropbox_clear_remote will remove all files in the remote folder. These two are introduced when a fresh sync is needed.

Command dropbox_list is essentially dropbox_uploader list, which will show a list of files on Dropbox remote folder.

For more options, check out README. For use cases (such as data backup), check out its wiki.

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