4 Unofficial Google Drive Clients for Linux
drive is a tiny program to pull or push Google Drive files.
Google drive Background sync...
Google introduced Google Drive on April 24, 2012 and promised Linux support “coming soon.” That was nearly two and a half years ago. There’s now a somewhat “official” Google Drive client for Linux, but it’s probably not what you want.
Google has continued to affirm that they’re “still working on it” for the last few years. Google does use Linux internally, so it’s no surprise there’s a solution created by a Google Drive developer.
Update: The tool below has changed since we wrote this article, so be sure to consult the instructions on the official website for the latest installation and usage details.
Meet “drive” – “Background sync is not just hard, it’s stupid”
“drive” is a small command-line program that runs on both Linux and Mac OS X. It’s open-source and written in Google’s “Go” programming language. This program was written by Burcu Dogan, aka rakyll, a Google employee who has worked for Google Drive’s platform team. It’s even copyrighted by Google. Clearly, this is the closest thing to an official Google Drive client for Linux we’ve seen yet.
The application’s page at github lists all the reasons why a background-syncing Google Drive client — the kind of official client available for Windows and Mac — is “stupid” and “not worth to implement.” To be clear, this developer does say that she doesn’t speak for Google as a whole. We can’t just look at this page and ascribe what she says to Google or the Google Drive team. However, it’s clearly disappointing for Linux users to wait more than two years for a promised client only to see a Google Drive developer trash the entire concept of background-syncing and release a more limited client. If you’ve been waiting for a proper official client, this probably isn’t what you were waiting for.
For these philosophical reasons, “drive” doesn’t sit in the background and sync files back and forth. It’s a command you run when you need to push a file to your Google Drive account, or to pull a file from it to your local computer. The “drive push” command pushes a file to Google Drive, and the “drive pull” command pulls a file from Google Drive. The developer notes situations where this could be especially useful — if you store a virtual machine in your Google Drive, you might want to immediately sync a tiny text file rather than syncing the large virtual machine file first.
To use this application, you’ll need version 1.2 or newer of Google’s Go language compiler installed. On Ubuntu 14.04, you can install it using the following command — this also installs other tools you’ll need:
sudo apt-get install golang git mercurial
Set up your GOPATH before continuing.
After doing so, use the following command to download and install drive:
go get -u github.com/odeke-em/drive/cmd/drive
(This command has changed since the screenshot below was taken.)
You can then run the following command to get help:
First, you’ll need to initialize drive with the following command. It will ask you to choose a local directory and authenticate with your Google account.
Afterward, you can use the “drive push” command to push a file to the remote server — for example, “drive push example.txt” pushes a file named example.txt in the current folder to your Google Drive account. The “drive pull” command pulls a file from Google Drive to your computer — for example, “drive pull /text/example.txt” pulls a file named “example.txt” located in the Google Drive “text” folder to your local computer. It’s your job to push and pull files back and forth when you need them.
Other Google Drive Clients for Linux
Insync offers a full-featured Google Drive client for Linux. However, you’ll have to pay a $15 one-time fee per Google account to use it. Paying for a syncing client on top of your cloud storage is a tough pill to swallow whenservices like Dropbox and SpiderOak offer an official client that actually works on Linux. Insync was previously free during its beta period.
Grive is an open-source Google Drive client, but it’s still considered “beta” and hasn’t been updated in a year. It’s hardly an ideal option to trust your files with. Grive Tools is a package that provides desktop integration for the grive command-line program, making it easier to use and adding automatic sync. This solution apparently works pretty well, but it is a selection of tools layered on a beta-quality unofficial client, which doesn’t inspire the most confidence. However, it’s probably the most complete solution available and is more full-featured than the “official” dive tool.
Long-suffering Linux users might remember the sorry saga of Unreal Tournament 3. Epic Games had a good history of supporting Linux with their previous Unreal Tournament games, and they promised Unreal Tournament 3 would also be on Linux. The Linux client was delayed. Even after the game was released for Windows, they continued saying a Linux client was coming soon. They spent years regularly assuring concerned Linux users that the game was on its way — even showing off screenshots of it running on Linux. After about three years of this, Epic finally said, “Sorry but I don’t think this is going to happen anymore.”
Perhaps we’re now just waiting for Google to say the same thing about Google Drive for Linux. Google’s support of Linux has been good in the past — but so was Epic Games’.