Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have the same setup on all of your nix boxes and be able to make a change to the config files on all the machines at the same time? Well, with Dropbox we can set this up easily.

Dropbox is a free online storage service that comes with a syncing app that works with Windows, Mac and of course Linux. Although Dropbox is typically used to sync files that reside in the /home/Dropbox directory we are going to make use of symbolic links to link files outside this directory in an attempt to sync config files across multiple Linux machines.


Here are some of the benefits you will get when syncing your config files with Dropbox

  • Applications behave the same on all systems
  • One change to the config file affects all computers
  • Setting up a new system is as easy as installing Dropbox and making some links
  • Config files are backed up

Get dropbox

Install Dropbox with your favorite package manager, Debian/Ubuntu users can click here. You can also install the CLI version via python.

You can run Dropbox in Gnome by going: Applications > Internet > Dropbox

When ran for the first time you will be access to create an account or login. Just follow the simple steps to setup your Dropbox.

Setup Dropbox on Linux

When finished you should have a folder in your home directory called, ‘Dropbox‘.

Setting it up

Make a folder in Dropbox named ConfigFiles and move your original config files here. This will store them on Dropbox’s servers for all of your computers to see.

For example:

mv .bashrc Dropbox/ConfigFiles

Then make a symbolic link that points to the original file in the Dropbox sync folder:

ln -s Dropbox/ConfigFiles/.bashrc .bashrc

Files you might want to sync:

  • .bashrc – Bash
  • .bash_profile – Bash Profile
  • .vimrc – Vim configuration
  • .icons – for a consistent icon set

Other Neat Dropbox Uses

Things you can do:

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5 Responses

  1. Sassinak


    I discovered the symbolic link thing by myself; I didn’t see it mentionned on the site. It’s great for synching, all right. My question: How safe can this be? Is their any encryption ? How would I go about getting some ?

  2. Mark Sanborn


    Dropbox is fairly secure, here is a comment from Drew of Dropbox:

    “just wanted to touch on security: we encrypt files using AES-256 before storing the file data on S3, and the underlying transport (for everything) is SSL. (we’ll also be adding the ability to provide your own private key.)”

    Of course this means you have to trust Dropbox does what they say. If you follow the TNO (Trust No One) policy you could always use a encfs container and put your config files in there. :)

  3. Mike


    Use “effect” as a noun, and “affect” as a verb. It’s not always obvious but at least you’ll be mostly right this way.

  4. Mark Sanborn


    Thank you! :)

  5. rygo


    From what I’ve seen of Dropbox, any of the synced machines could update their config files then these would be updated on all the other machines. Does this mean that the admin would not have control over the settings for the network, rather any member could update?