I dual-boot Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 8 with a shared NTFS storage partition. My dropbox folder is on this shared partition.

First, I notice that whenever I switch back and forth between the two OSes, Dropbox has to re-index everything. Do you know why?

Second, even though Dropbox syncs and indexes very quickly in Windows, it never finishes indexing in Ubuntu. The official Dropbox help suggests that this is a permission / ownership problem, so I change the ownership of my shared partition (and all of the sub-dir) to me instead of root. Still, the problem persists.

What to do in this situation?

  • You said the files had been owned by root. It sounds like you are trying to share system files or something in Dropbox that isn't in your home directory. That might explain the problem. What if you make a copy of the files and put them in your /home/user/Dropbox directory (or some other place unambiguously accessible to your user account) and follow the directions for linux in the link you pointed to. What happens when you do that? – Tommy Trussell Feb 21 '15 at 3:23
  • The entire shared partition was owned by root, not just Dropbox. What do you mean "system files"? Can I just take them out of Dropbox then? – Heisenberg Feb 21 '15 at 4:13
  • By "system files" I meant files normally owned by root that are installed in linux. I don't really understand what you are sharing in an "entire partition"; Dropbox is normally used to share "user" files -- files your system user "owns" and has full privileges to. SO while you may be able to make it operate for an entire partition, you may be running into an odd permissions issue. I meant create a directory in your normal NON-root user home account and copy the files to it. Try a default ~/Dropbox directory and check the permissions as in the Dropbox Help link. – Tommy Trussell Feb 21 '15 at 18:45
  • My shared partition is a storage partition I created to share files between Windows and Linux. I put my Dropbox folder in this partition so that it's accessible from both Windows and Linux. I also changed fstab so that this storage partition is now owned by me, not root, when mounted. Plus, there is no system files in my Dropbox -- everything is owned by me. – Heisenberg Feb 21 '15 at 18:55
  • I understand now. It may possibly be an issue with how linux supports NTFS, and I have almost zero experience with NTFS. Since you want to share the volume with Windows, NTFS may be your best choice. HOWEVER Windows also supports exFAT, but you'll have to install exfat-utils to add exFAT support to Ubuntu and (in my very limited experience) it may not perform better. It might be worth a try if you are keen on experimenting. (You COULD also try a FAT partition if you know you'll never need >4Gb files.) – Tommy Trussell Feb 21 '15 at 19:03

I believe Dropbox re-indexes the files when you switch because it sees that something has modified the indexes when you switch operating systems. Since you are using Dropbox, why don't you just have it manage the filesystems separately -- an NTFS filesystem when you are running in Windows, and an ext4 (or whatever you prefer) filesystem when you are in linux. Mixing the Windows and Ubuntu Dropbox clients on the same filesystem is very likely causing the issue.

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  • How exactly do I have my storage partition as both NTFS and ext4? I could have put 2 separate Dropbox folders, 1 for Win, 1 for Linux, but I didn't to save space. – Heisenberg Feb 21 '15 at 19:13
  • Yes I am suggesting you would NOT save space -- this is the opposite of saving space -- totally separate NTFS and ext4 partitions. If you are using Dropbox to share them why bother trying to share another way, too? Obviously space and time are two disadvantages to this, but it sounds like you may want to reevaluate what you are gaining from adding Dropbox to the mix in the first place. – Tommy Trussell Feb 21 '15 at 19:36

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