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I have a dual boot laptop- Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10, both located on same HD, different partitions, and a third one, meant to be for common use.

To avoid putting my Dropbox folder on each OS, I wish to install it on that 3rd partition. I though that "FAT32" will fit for that job, but when I installed Dropbox on Windows side, it asked for "NTFS" (so it was changed from "FAT32" to "NTFS") and when I switch to Ubuntu, Dropbox asked for "Ext4".

Can this situation be solved ?

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    Sharing the Dropbox folder between the OSes, as others have pointed out, is quite risky and error-prone. You can consider going with an external NAS that supports Dropbox (for example, Synology) if you're using your laptop mostly in a single location, and then mount the drive on both OSes from a local network location. I'm using this solution for years now and I'm happy with it.
    – synweap15
    Apr 21 at 4:05
  • @synweap15 It was one of my first solutions in mind, but WD double bay cloud does not support Dropbox
    – guyd
    Apr 21 at 4:41

2 Answers 2

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Q. Can this situation be solved?

Nope.

Which probably leads to ...

Q. Why not?

The problem comes down to how Dropbox relies on the journaling mechanism of the file system to know when a file has been changed. This reduces the overhead of actively watching (potentially) millions of files, which comes with a high cost.

Linux does not have a mechanism to observe the NTFS journal in a reliable manner, so the Dropbox client cannot use NTFS file systems. Windows has a similar issue in that it does not have a reliable means of reading the Ext4 journal. FAT-based file systems do not use journaling at all, which is why Dropbox stopped supporting those file systems several years ago.

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This used to work, but as the other answer says, Dropbox blocks file systems they do not want to support. At the time they made this change, I also required dual booting, and moved away from Dropbox.

It is possible to patch away the restriction. You can use it at your own risk, I haven't tested it myself: https://github.com/dark/dropbox-filesystem-fix. Here are installation instructions.

You might also try Maestral, which is an alternative client for Linux.

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    @guyd git clone ?
    – Levente
    Apr 20 at 14:33
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    For source code, it is really worth it to learn git, even if you only use very basic commands in the beginning. For other documents, I am happy with NextCloud/OwnCloud which has native apps for Win, Linux, Mac. You can host your own server, but there are also multiple commerical services.
    – jdm
    Apr 20 at 14:40
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    @guyd - It may be a good idea to use git commit instead of "cloud like update", because it is much easier to recover mistakenly deleted code that way. You can execute git add . && git commit -m "whatever" && git push origin main with a single, short command (just create an executable in ~/.local/bin). Moreover, if you have github-cli installed, you will not even need to enter your password to push your code to GitHub. Apr 20 at 15:09
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    @guyd What you are saying makes zero sense... There are plenty of cloud free services for git such as github or bitbucket. You should really just git commit and git push and then git pull on the other OS. Using Dropbox in place of git push&pull is, simply put, dumb and wont work.
    – GACy20
    Apr 21 at 8:50
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    If you really need "cloud-like update", I'm sure every operating system you need to use has a mechanism to watch a directory for changes. You save a file, the OS detects a change in the contents of the watched directory, and runs a git commit && git push for you. You could also have a similar thing pulling from the github commit every 5 minutes, but you really don't want that (merge conflicts)! Apr 22 at 9:04

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