I'm inheriting admin control over a server used to process and share data between investigators. We've been trying to use Dropbox to share some of the files. Dropbox was installed when I took over the server, so it seemed like an easy method. However, I can't get Dropbox to stay running consistently.

I initially linked my account to Dropbox using the GUI in an X session. I added the Dropbox CLI interface (dropbox.py) and an init.d entry to start it as a daemon, using one of the many examples I found online (currently init.d script is modeled after this one, see below for the actual script).

When I reboot the server calling service dropbox status returns that it is running, but dropbox.py states it is not, and nothing syncs. If I manually start using dropbox.py, everything syncs - but the dropbox service reports it as not running. If I manually start via service dropbox start, the service reports itself as not running but dropbox.py reports it as syncing. Whenever I log in and fix it, everything seems to run fine for a day or two, but then it stops syncing again.

I've tried killing the init.d script, removing all entries and reinstalling. I've tried reinstalling Dropbox via command line. I cannot seem to figure out what the issue is, and the examples I'm finding elsewhere all assume the server is running headless only (which it isn't - several users are primarily accessing it via remote desktop).

I don't care if Dropbox starts on GUI login or not, I just want it running in the background at all times, whether I am logged in or not. And I definitely don't want it to stop if I log in (either CLI or X session), which I have read can happen depending on how it's started initially.

(Dropbox 2.10.3, x64, on Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS)

Any suggestions?

init.d/dropbox script in use (example here uses dummy user name):

# Provides: dropbox
# Required-Start: $local_fs $remote_fs $network $syslog $named
# Required-Stop: $local_fs $remote_fs $network $syslog $named
# Default-Start: 2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop: 0 1 6
# X-Interactive: false
# Short-Description: dropbox service

# Replace with linux users you want to run Dropbox clients for

start() {
  echo "Starting dropbox..."
  for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do
    HOMEDIR=$(getent passwd $dbuser | cut -d: -f6)

    DAEMON=$(find $HOMEDIR/.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.* -name dropboxd)

    if [ -x $DAEMON ]; then
      HOME="$HOMEDIR" start-stop-daemon -b -o -c $dbuser -S -u $dbuser -x $DAEMON -p "$HOMEDIR/.dropbox/dropbox.pid"

stop() {
  echo "Stopping dropbox..."
    for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do
      HOMEDIR=$(getent passwd $dbuser | cut -d: -f6)

      DAEMON=$(find $HOMEDIR/.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.* -name dropbox)

      if [ -x $DAEMON ]; then
        start-stop-daemon -o -c $dbuser -K -u $dbuser -x $DAEMON

status() {
  for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do
    dbpid=`ps -u $dbuser -o pid,cmd | grep "$HOMEDIR"/"$DAEMON"\$ | awk '{ print \$1 }'`
    if [ -z $dbpid ] ; then
      echo "dropboxd for USER $dbuser: not running."
      echo "dropboxd for USER $dbuser: running (pid $dbpid)"

case "$1" in






echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/dropbox {start|stop|reload|force-reload|restart|status}"
exit 1


exit 0
  • Updated: Removed '"$HOMEDIR"/' in the status grep command as I realized it was already defined in $DAEMON. Returns status as running but pulls multiple PIDs instead of just the first one; returns an error as well. If I run the same command manually it only returns the single correct process ID. – dr.nixon Aug 11 '14 at 17:46
  • Ever solve this? – HDave Sep 11 '14 at 18:07
  • Apparently. It's still running, so the script seems to be working. But I also haven't logged in interactively since setting it up, and I read elsewhere that doing so might interrupt the CLI daemon. I killed Dropbox and reinstalled from CLI, that and fixing the script error above seem to have corrected things. – dr.nixon Sep 15 '14 at 16:33

I've been using the script at http://www.dropboxwiki.com/tips-and-tricks/install-dropbox-in-an-entirely-text-based-linux-environment which had been working previously, but when I check today it wasn't working.

Eventually I found that the line


needed changing to DAEMON=.dropbox-dist/dropboxd

Now it works.

  • FYI, stopping the daemon won't work right. When dropboxd runs, it spawns a process like .dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.x86_64-2.10.30/dropbox. When 'stop' is called in the init script, it looks for .dropbox-dist/dropboxd. – David L Nov 18 '14 at 5:27

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