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Dropbox as a systemd service

If you've ever worked with Dropbox on Linux, you know that you basically download a script, untar it, and execute it.

I use the following Ansible task to install it:

  - name: Install dropbox
    shell: curl -L "" | tar -C $HOME -xzf -
      creates: ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd
    # For now, I'm just going to manually start it the first time and auth

The first time it executes, it asks for authorization, but, after that, you basically just leave that terminal open to keep the app working on your machine. This type of long-running program is called a daemon, and, in many modern distributions of Linux, daemons are managed with systemd. You can create a service file, which tells systemd how to treat your daemon, then tell systemd to start it now, and start it on boot, and you are done. Fairly easy. I went a-Googling for Dropbox service files and realized all of them needed root access! When running it manually, there is no need for root access, so systemd shoudln't need it either. With that sentiment, here is the user level dropbox systemd service file I came up with (see the docs for more information).

Description=Dropbox as a user service

# Note: don't set these in user mode- they're already set, and
# systemd won't have permission to set them- killing your service before
# it starts
# User=%U
# Group=%U


Drop that puppy into ~/.config/systemd/user/dropbox.service, creating files and directories as needed.

Start the service with:

systemctl --user start dropbox

Make sure it worked with:

$ systemctl --user status dropbox
● dropbox.service - Dropbox as a user service
   Loaded: loaded (/home/bbkane/.config/systemd/user/dropbox.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Fri 2017-08-04 22:01:02 CDT; 1h 48min ago
 Main PID: 1407 (dropbox)
   CGroup: /user.slice/user-1000.slice/user@1000.service/dropbox.service
           └─1407 /home/bbkane/.dropbox-dist/dropbox-lnx.x86_64-31.4.25/dropbox

In my (limited) experience, Dropbox tends to be a quiet service, as checking the logs with journalctl doesn't really produce much

$ journalctl -u dropbox
-- No entries --

Finally, make sure the service starts on login with:

$ systemctl --user enable dropbox
Created symlink /home/bbkane/.config/systemd/user/ → /home/bbkane/.config/systemd/user/dropbox.service.