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How To Use Google Drive on Linux: 2 Unofficial Solutions

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When Google announced Google Drive, they promised Linux support. That was about 7 months ago. While Google said Google Drive for Linux was “still a priority” back in July, it seems it’s no longer a priority.

If you want to use Google Drive on Linux, both Insync and grive can bring Google Drive to Linux. They’re not official, but they’re better than nothing if you’re waiting for an official client.

Insync

Insync is a Google Drive synchronization tool that supports Linux, Windows, and Mac. It has some features not present in the official Google Drive client – for example, it can download Google Docs documents in Open Document format for offline use.

Insync is more polished and feature-complete than grive – it’s even packed with more features than the official Google Drive client. While it’s currently available for free, Insync will become a paid service when it’s out of beta. We can hope that Google will release an official Google Drive client for Linux by then – Insync is a good stop-gap at the moment.

Get Insync packages for your Linux distribution from the Insync website. You can add the Insync repository to your system or just download a single package to install from the bottom of the page. (If you’re using Ubuntu, add the repository or download the deb package and double-click it.)

Insync adds itself to your panel and automatically keeps your Google Drive files in sync. Setup is very simple – just launch Insync from your dash and it will add itself to your panel and walk you through the process.

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You can access your Google Drive files from the Insync folder in your home folder. It’s a much slicker solution than grive, but it won’t be free forever.

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Grive

Grive is an open-source Google Drive synchronization tool. It supports two-way sync with Google Drive. Unfortunately, grive a few limitations. It can’t watch for changes and automatically run in the background, so you’ll have to run it from a terminal to make it sync. It also doesn’t support synchronizing Google documents, spreadsheets, or other Google Docs files – just files you’re storing in Google Drive.

To use Grive, you run the Grive command to synchronize with your Google Drive account. Any newly added files will be downloaded, files you’ve changed on either end will be updated with more recent versions, and deleted files will be moved to the trash. To perform another sync and update things later, run the grive command again.

If you’d like to use Grive on Ubuntu, you can install it by opening a terminal and running the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grive

Run the following command to make a folder named grive in your home directory:

mkdir ~/grive

Switch to the grive directory:

cd ~/grive

Run grive with the -a switch to authenticate with your Google Drive account:

grive –a

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Copy-paste the address displayed in the terminal into your browser’s address bar to load it. You’ll get an authentication code, which you’ll need to copy-paste back into the terminal to give grive access to your Google account. After you have, grive will perform its first sync.

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To perform a sync with your Google drive in the future, run the following commands:

cd ~/grive

grive

Note that grive syncs to the current folder when you run it, so you must cd to your grive folder before running the grive command.

Revoking Access

If you stop using grive or Insync in the future, you can revoke their access to your Google account from the Connected Sites, Apps, and Services page on the Google website. You can also revoke access to other apps and websites you no longer use from this page.


Thanks to WebUpd8 for hosting the grive PPA!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/3/12

Comments (9)

  1. CompadreSmith

    Grive is way better, it’s open source and lets you set whatever folder you want to be the one that gets injected with your Google Drive, InSync unfortunately does not. They would both benefit from a selective sync feature though.

  2. brett

    @CompadreSmith
    You can set the insync folder from the command line:
    insync –set-files-path=/path/to/myinsync

    Selective sync feature is coming soon.

  3. Alessandro

    ” It can’t watch for changes and automatically run in the background, so you’ll have to run it from a terminal to make it sync”

    #!/bin/bash
    ping -c 5 drive.google.com >> /dev/null
    if [[ $? -eq 0 ]]; then
    cd ~/GDrive
    grive
    fi
    exit 0

    You can save and add this script to a @hourly cronjob and it will sync in the background every hour.

  4. John Clarke

    hello,
    Just looking at your instructions for installing Grive under Ubantu. Can you possibly advise me (as a newcomer to linux) if this would be the same code for installing on Debian (RaspberryPi)?

    Much obliged if you can help.

    regards

    John Clarke

  5. Sarah

    John,

    Ubuntu is a rebuild of Debian, so this should work on your Pi without too many problems. You won’t do any damage giving it a try.

    Sarah

  6. John Clarke

    Thanks Sarah
    I tried entering the first line (sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8) but it just returned sudo: add-apt-repository: command not found, before I could even get to enter the second line.

    I tried the Insynch version as well but on entering the first line (wget -q0 – https://d2tff60b2to14.cloudfront.net/services@insynch.com.gpg.key \ | sudo apt-key add -) it then returned gpg: no valid OpenPGP data found.

    I am obviously doing something wrong. I think I need to get back to Linux basics and get a good primer and get a bit more comfortable with this operating system. Thanks anyway.

    John

  7. Heber

    John

    This would correct your problem:

    sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

  8. John Clarke

    Heber,

    Well, that certainly made a difference. Thanks.
    I can now load up the first two lines. However, there is still a problem with the third line (sudo apt-get install grive). It reads the package list ok; builds the dependency tree ok; reads the state information ok. but finally it responds with E: Unable to locate package grive.
    Any Ideas?
    PS Should I make the directory ~/grive and be in that directory before the installation command> The instructions above seem to add this action after the install operation.

  9. Polla

    is there any possibility to sync selective directory on the google drive not all of them

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