HOWTO: Set up Dropbox in Xfce+Thunar without Nautilus

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HOWTO: Set up Dropbox in Xfce+Thunar without Nautilus

Postby Norwegiancod » 2014-01-22 02:41

Hi all,

Let me say that I would consider myself a noob, but I'm also a diehard Debian fan. Probably my most involved project to date was building my own Xfce-based minimalist Wheezy install on my aging laptop. I started with a bare bones net install, then added everything from xorg on up and I've been very satisfied with the results. One issue I encountered, however, was that I couldn't seem to find a straightforward guide to installing Dropbox (which relies on Nautilus by default) with Thunar and Xfce. I found two excellent guides online that I basically mashed together with flawless results on my laptop thus far.

I'm just the guy that found these two great references and stiched them together in the hopes that it might help someone else with this similar niche case in the future. All credit goes to Z-obsolete for his excellent guide on the CrunchBang wiki, and Boot for his outstanding post on his blog Tillamook Rage for the information and scripting below. ... up_dropbox ... e-way.html

Finally, I am certainly open to any comments or thoughts for improvement. My solution is certainly a bit hackish, so any ideas to improve are certainly welcome! Now, on with the guide....


1. Download the package at
2. Extract and move .dropbox-dist to ~/.dropbox-dist.


Our fist step is to create a fake Nautilus script that will actually launch Thunar when Dropbox requests it. The script will go in ~/bin (so make sure you've created the directory first if necessary). In your favorite terminal emulator + text editor:

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touch ~/bin/ && chmod +x ~/bin/ && mousepad ~/bin/ &

Paste in the following into the new file:

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exec thunar ~/Dropbox
# exec thunar $@ doesn't work as thunar doesn't allow --no-desktop option
exit 0

Then save the file and exit.


Now, we'll set up Xfwm to automatically start the Dropbox daemon at login.

First, we'll create the script that will be referenced below when Xfce starts up (I called it "" and I put it in its own dir "autostart" under ~/bin).

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mousepad ~/bin/ &

Paste in the following to set up some safeguards in case an application calls on /usr/bin/nautilus, and of course, start the Dropbox daemon:

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# Just in case some random app calls on Nautilus, lets set some safeguards to minimize the impact:
# Disable Nautilus desktop, because we really really do not want it!
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop false &
# Do not let Nautilus set the background, because we really really do not want this either.
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /desktop/gnome/background/draw_background false &
# Make Nautilus use spatial mode, should start-up quicker.
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser false &
# Make Nautilus show the advanced permissions dialog -- if it has to start, lets at least make it usable :)
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_advanced_permissions true &
# And finally...
# ...start dropbox daemon.
(sleep 2s && ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd) &

Next, we'll point Xfce to our script above at system startup. Navigate to /etc/xdg/autostart/ and create a new .desktop file (I named it "dropbox.desktop") with the following:

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Comment=running autostart script to hack dropbox into working
Exec=bash /home/username/bin/

Finally, under Applications Menu -> Settings -> Session and Startup -> Applicaton Autostart, add a launcher for Dropbox:

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bash -c "(sleep 2s && ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd) &"


Dropbox should now autostart without invoking Nautilus!
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Joined: 2013-11-07 18:29

Re: HOWTO: Set up Dropbox in Xfce+Thunar without Nautilus

Postby tadaensylvermane » 2014-04-08 00:11

Hate to say it but it is just as easy to download the .deb directly from and then

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dpkg -i install /path/to/deb

it may whine about python-gpgme at which case.

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apt-get -y install python-gpgme

Installation done. From there just start dropbox manually and it will take care of itself. After it downloads whatever it needs it will ask you to login and set up real fast.
Posts: 65
Joined: 2013-07-02 00:49

Re: HOWTO: Set up Dropbox in Xfce+Thunar without Nautilus

Postby llivv » 2014-04-08 20:40

another alternative is
from the base wheezy install
add your xserver environment and XFCE packages
then see how minimally you can add nautilus ( since XFCE pulls a lot of gnome anyways, one might be able to squeeze it in on the down low ).
then install nautilus-dropbox
or even php-dropbox from wheezy backports

might be interesting to compare side by side for performance, configuration and ease of use,
with possible hints about how to reconfigure nautilus or php dropbox for thunar. :wink:
In memory of Ian Ashley Murdock (1973 - 2015) founder of the Debian project.
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