Since a while, 2 weeks, Dropbox does not startup anymore on my laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with GNOME shell.

When I run dropbox start -i in the console I get the following output.

  Starting Dropbox...Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/bin/dropbox", line 1387, in <module>
    ret = main(sys.argv)
  File "/usr/bin/dropbox", line 1376, in main
    result = commands[argv[i]](argv[i+1:])
  File "/usr/bin/dropbox", line 1247, in start
    if not start_dropbox():
  File "/usr/bin/dropbox", line 731, in start_dropbox
    stderr=sys.stderr, stdout=f, close_fds=True)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/subprocess.py", line 679, in __init__
    errread, errwrite)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/subprocess.py", line 1249, in _execute_child
    raise child_exception
  OSError: [Errno 8] Exec format error

I already removed Dropbox and reinstalled it. What should I do to fix this?

6 Answers 6


I had a similar error, and this worked:

rm -rf $HOME/.dropbox-dist
dropbox start -i

After running those commands in the terminal, let the dropbox downloader run and install. It should work immediately after it finishes.

  • 1
    This worked for me on Ubuntu 14.04. Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 23:17
  • This one worked for me too on Ubuntu 14.04
    – Kuruyiva
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 16:48
  • Worked for me, Linux Mint 17.1 (October 2016 today)
    – KajMagnus
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:11
  • Worked for me on Ubuntu 17.04!
    – bryant1410
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 22:57
  • Just worked on 20.04 Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 17:51

I had the same problem and found this fix

Basically, I fixed the error by reinstalling dropbox distribution with the following terminal commands:

sudo rm -rf /var/lib/dropbox/.dropbox-dist
dropbox start -i
  • 1
    not sure if it has since been updated, but I am 4.2.5-1-ARCH, and it was located at $HOME/.dropbox-dist as @morhook suggested below (askubuntu.com/a/416981/307798)
    – dylnmc
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 17:00
  • Worked for me, thanks very much for your answer. Ubuntu desktop - 14.04 LTS 64 Bit
    – ynnekkram
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 8:53
  • 1
    For some reason I had the directory under both /var/lib/dropbox/ and $HOME. There was an older version in the former.
    – jarno
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 7:10

Try to reinstall dropbox.

First open a terminal and type the following to remove dropbox:

sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get --purge remove nautilus-dropbox
sudo apt-get --purge autoremove

Now type the next commands in sequence to install dropbox.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 5044912E
sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://linux.dropbox.com/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main"
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox


  • 1
    This worked for me apart from apt-key adv --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 5044912E That command just hung. Doing the purge, update and install of Dropbox seemed sufficient. Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 11:55
  • Sorry but this did not work for me. Firstly I installed dropbox and not nautilus-dropbox. I got the following error W: A error occurred during the signature verification. The repository is not updated and the previous index files will be used. GPG error: http://linux.dropbox.com precise Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY FC918B335044912E W: Failed to fetch http://linux.dropbox.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/Release W: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.
    – WG-
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 12:31
  • 4
    The following packages have unmet dependencies: nautilus-dropbox : Depends: dropbox but it is not going to be installed E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
    – WG-
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 12:32
  • 2
    Then try this to install it: cd ~ && wget -O - "http://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64" | tar xzf - and to run type this: ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd
    – efthialex
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 12:37
  • 4
    1) delete the .dropbox-dist folder from your home. 2) open a terminal and type: dropbox start 3) then type dropbox start -i to link your account
    – efthialex
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 13:19

I had the same issue but none of this worked. But I found there was a running dropbox process. Even when I asked the status it showed as stopped and it didn't work at all.

My solution was to kill the dropbox process, remove the .dropbox-dist directory and run it again.

First find the dropbox process:

$ ps ax | grep dropbox
5490 ?        SNsl   0:01 /home/frankie/.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.x86-2.10.52/dropbox
$ kill -TERM 5490

Then remove the dist dir and start it again

$ rm .dropbox/dropbox.pid
$ dropbox start -i

Hope this helps.


Uninstall and then follow the official instructions:

cd ~ && wget -O - "https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64" | tar xzf -
~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd &

The only way I could fix it (luckily everything was already synced) was by doing ... (Don't do this is you haven't backed things up or the files are not synced):

sudo apt-get remove --purge dropbox # (for me this was actually sudo pacman -Rncs dropbox because I am on arch ... basically, you just need to remove it)

find / -name "\*ropbox\*" 2>/dev/null

Remove everything associated with the dropbox (including $HOME/.dropbox-dist, $HOME/Dropbox (will wipe your data obviously, so back it up into a temp. directory or something!!), etc).

No clue why this stopped working, but doing rm -rf $HOME/.dropbox-dist unfortunately didn't work for me.

Hope this helps.

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