A Problem which can befall Dropbox under Linux (Unable to Access -Folder).

This is a problem which has happened to some of the Dropbox customers, who have the client installed under Linux:

The Dropbox Icon changes to a grayed-out icon, with a red cross, and when we click or right-click on the icon, it says it’s unable to access (its) Dropbox folder. It even asks us for our Linux Password (apparently Windows-gurus don’t understand Linux), in a bid to correct the permissions of the folder in question. Don’t enter any password. At the same time, if we have a very complex desktop-management system running, we may find that the Desktop and its management-software become laggy to almost non-functional, especially with ‘Baloo’ running etc..

In my case this was due to the combination of two factors:

  1. I had added many, systematically-named files to my Dropbox folder from another synced computer, due to backing up newly-installed software.
  2. Dropbox uses a feature called ‘INotify’, so that a program gets notified as soon as the contents of a file are changed, which that program has placed a watch on. In this case, Dropbox has a watch on thousands of files.

In my case, the following helped. On a Debian-based system, in a terminal-window, type:


dirk@Phoenix:~$ su
root@Phoenix:/home/dirk# cd /etc
root@Phoenix:/etc# edit text/*:sysctl.conf


Then, edit the file in question, to contain the following two lines:


fs.inotify.max_user_watches = 262144
fs.inotify.max_user_instances = 256


Then, to make the changes take effect, type:


root@Phoenix:/etc# sysctl -p


What this does is set the kernel limits ‘very high’, as to how many INotify-watches it will support. For the moment, the Dropbox client on this machine is stable again.

(Updated 07/03/2018, 8h35 … )

(As of 07/02/2018, 11h25 : )

Actually, according to my own recent experience, after applying the above fix, if the limit already did run out, a reboot is nevertheless required.

And because of the needed reboot, my server was also down for about 10 minutes this morning…

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