Google Drive in Linux

Google Drive in Linux is really a pain. Because there is no Linux support from official Google Drive, but only Windows and Mac. In order to use Google Drive to synchronise to the local computer like Dropbox, I have tried several solutions. None of them is satisfying, yet Grive is the best among them so far.


In Linux, there are some solutions as mentioned in Wikipedia and also Arch Wiki: google-drive-ocamlfuse, Insync, and Grive. In the perspective of usability, Insync is the best, because it provides easy GUI to setup the synchronisation. Yet, the drawback is the 15 days trial only. This is seriously impracticable for a free and open source supporter. If there is any other solution, surely the user will tend to the solution.

FUSE-based solution

I have tried google-drive-ocamlfuse. It uses FUSE to mount the Google Drive on the local filesystem. I found that it is very slow (may be caused by the network connection speed problem I had faced). Because of mounting the Google Drive, internet connection is required. This is why I gave up using google-drive-ocamlfuse. (And yesterday I tried to re-install google-drive-ocamlfuse and sync the Google Drive, yet I failed to get the authentication.) Referring to the AUR, I found that there is fuse-google-drive, which I failed to compile in Arch Linux. However, I think that it uses the same way as google-drive-ocamlfuse. I noticed this project because of the higher voting than google-drive-ocamlfuse in AUR. Similarly, I failed to get the authentication for the first sync.

Web-based solution

Other than Grive, I have tried the solution using Google Chrome for the offline syncing. Because Google Chrome is the official Google web browser, and it supports Google Drive offline syncing. And I think that it may be more usable than those command-line tools (google-drive-ocamlfuse, fuse-google-drive, and Grive). And I know that Chrome OS is based on Google Chrome, thus I think that it may be a good solution for Google Drive.

However, running Google Chrome in a native Linux is just good for web browsing only, but not for “file browsing”. Though it allows offline usage, to open the files in the Google Chrome is just very silly that I have to download and open the file, not saying anything about uploading.


I have even tried to install Google Drive for Windows by running Windows in the VirtualBox. It seems like a good idea. In order to make the synchronisation works as in the Linux, so I created shared folder for the host machine to the guest machine (Windows). Then running Google Drive client in Windows, to try to sync the files on the mapped network drive, the Google Drive client does not work. Thus, the solution failed.


So, I go back to the Grive as my final decision for Google Drive solution in Linux. It allows syncing the remote Google Drive and local file system. Other than that, it allows multiple Google accounts. The only drawback is no real-time synchronisation like Dropbox. All the syncing process must be initiated by the user. Yet, comparing to others, it is the best solution.


Some solutions allow converting Google Docs (Sheets, and Slides) to the OpenDocuments or Microsoft Office documents. However, I found that they are not good, because synchronisation will create the new files to the remote server. Since there is no compatible software which can open the Google Docs natively, it would be better that only Google Chrome (or Chromium) allows to access these file types. So far, Grive ignores these files in the Google Drive.

So, the following is the comparison of the Google Drive solutions:

Grive Google Chrome / Chromium google-drive-ocamlfuse (or FUSE-based tool) Insync
Free 15 days trial
Auto sync
GUI Third-party (yet does not allow multiple accounts)

As mentioned above, though web-browser seems the best, yet accessing the files through the web-browser with the web interface is very ridiculous.


Recently there is a hot trend regarding running APK on Linux. Just a thought only, may be soon Google Drive for Android can be run in Linux, then no native Linux support for Google Drive is needed any more.


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