A failed attempt to install Dropbox on Pinebook Armbian

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Dropbox has its client source code publicly available on the Dropbox site officially. The Dropbox source code is released under GNU GPLv3 license. This gives a wrong impression that anyone who’s not running X86 based machine can compile and run the Dropbox client as long as all dependent packages are installed. Well, that is a naive assumption and it is not the case at all, thanks to the Dropbox property daemon.

In this post, I go through a failed attempt to install Dropbox client on a Pinebook machine running Armbian. So it can be a future reference with the hope of saving others from the trouble of researching and possibly wasting time on installing the Dropbox client on a none X86 machine.

The installation process

Since there is no Dropbox available for none X86 machines, including ARM based architecture, I need to compile it from the source code. But before jumping to that stage, I need to install some of the dependencies as follow:

$ sudo apt install pkg-config libnautilus-extension-dev python-docutils python-gpgme

Once you downloaded all the dependencies, I need to download the Dropbox client source, which can be found here: https://linux.dropbox.com/packages/

I selected the latest version which at the time authoring this article is nautilus-dropbox-2018.11.28.tar.bz2.

Once the file downloaded, you can decompress it using this command:

$ tar -xvjf nautilus-dropbox-2018.11.28.tar.bz2

Then cdto the Dropbox client directory and run below command:

$ ./configure; make; sudo make install

If installation went successful, you should be able to access to dropbox command. You can start it with this command:

$ dropbox start -i

Where the problem lies

The main issue is that the Dropbox client is relying on a proprietary daemon application to function. And without it, the client app is completely useless. As you may have guessed by now, the daemon app is binary. So it’s kind of obvious that Dropbox has not made any version to work with ARM architecture.

When I tried to start the client using the aforementioned command, got this message which then noticed that sometimes wasted for nothing.

Dropbox Installation
Dropbox Installation

As it is stated clearly Dropbox client had to download the propretart daemon.

I then proceed multiple times and each time got different errors from the command line which are:

Starting Dropbox...python: ../../src/xcb_io.c:529: _XAllocID: Assertion `ret != inval_id' failed.


Starting Dropbox...Xlib: sequence lost (0x10320 > 0x366) in reply type 0x1c!
dropbox: Fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable) on X server :0.


Platform not supported

What’s next?

So far there is no way to get the official Dropbox client up and running on ARM-based devices. But to not give up on the matter I have sent an email to the Dropbox dev support team. Once I got the answer, will update it here.

For now, I highly recommend another syncing application such as Syncthing which is not the perfect replacement for Dropbox but it does the job.

Edit (Dropbox replied to my email)

After sending an email to the Dropbox developer support. I got the following response from them:

Hi Kasra,
You are correct the Dropbox client don’t support ARM architectures. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer about whether support will be available in the future.

From the email it is clear that the Dropbox does not support ARM architecture, as experienced by me, and I am speculating that they don’t have a plan to release one in the near future.