The Problem

I installed nautilus-dropbox in Ubuntu 18.04. The app itself works fine, but it does not respect the Start Dropbox on system startup option.

  • When I start Dropbox manually, it creates a file at ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop.
  • If I issue the command $ dropbox autostart n the file is removed.
  • If I restart Dropbox the offending file is recreated.

The Failed Fix

I've tried adding dropbox autostart n to dropbox start -i in /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop. This results in Exec=dropbox start -i; dropbox autostart n.

Now when I start Dropbox it still recreates the file in ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop but now the line Exec=dropbox start -i appears as Exec=dropbox start -i; dropbox autostart n.

(Starting Dropbox via command line also creates the file in ~/.config/autostart/.)

The Dumb Solution

Issue a $ dropbox autostart n after starting the daemon.

The Request

Assuming I don't want it to start and then stop during boot, but to remain dead until I wake it up manually via command line or apps menu.

How do I prevent Dropbox from starting during system boot?

Update (a few months later...)

This issue has been solved by Dropbox with a client update.

2 Answers 2


This is kind of hacky, but I've restarted a few times and it seems to be working.

I went to /home/[user]/.config/autostart and found the Dropbox shortcut. I opened it and changed the command (I wanted to start it using dbus-launch, so that's what I did, but if you don't want to start Dropbox at all, I think you could just delete everything in the Command field).

Then, to prevent Dropbox from overwriting it the next time it starts, I went to the permissions for the shortcut and set it so that Nobody has permission to change content.

So far it seems to have fixed the problem.


I encountered an odd situation on Ubuntu Bionic 18.04.1 where with:

  • dropbox unlinked
  • thunar-dropbox-plugin and nautilus-dropbox uninstalled
  • ~/.dropbox and ~/.dropbox-dist deleted

I was still seeing log entries that dropbox was trying to start but couldn't find files. There were suggestions to clear:

  • ~/.cache/ (removed all but wine related)
  • ~/.config/autostart/ (remove dropbox related)
  • ~/.config/xfce4-session/ (remove all)

But a closer examination of the log mentioned ureadahead so I eventually cleared it by:

  • /var/lib/ureadahead/ (remove *.pack and pack)

With the caches clear, dropbox no longer tries to start which answers the question. A manual installation of dropbox with: cd ~ && wget -O - "https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64" | tar xzf - ./.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.x86_64-57.4.89/dropbox start -i Shouldn't be able to autostart at all and would require something like the second command to manually start it.

For my purposes, I simply wanted to fix XFCE icon corruption so I reinstalled the plugins and used sed to update the global desktop entry. sudo apt install thunar-dropbox-plugin nautilus-dropbox sudo sed -i "s|\(Exec=\)dropbox start -i|\\1dbus-launch dropbox start -i|" /usr/share/applications/dropbox.desktop

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