August 2, 2012

InSync: Alternative client for Google Drive on Linux

Google is taking a while to release their Google Drive client on to the Linux platform. There are a couple of alternatives that do exist for those who are brave enough to try.

Insync is one of those better alternatives that is still under heavy development. The software allows you to instantaneously sync your Drive contents to and from Ubuntu. In addition, Insync lets you edit your documents offline, quickly generate share links though Nautilus, and alerts you to any changes or errors via an indicator applet.

On the privacy side of things, the company who  developed Insync assures us that they do not store anything about you (except token and metadata info on your files). All uploads, edits, and deletions occur natively on your device and are then synced to Google Drive.

Insync Features

The best thing about Insync is that it is a 'wrapper' for Google Drive; it lets you sync files and folders from a Google cloud account, and vice versa.

Some features to take note:
  • Nautilus integration
  • Indicator Applet for management/notifications
  • Offline Docs editing
  • Multiple account support

Using Insync in Ubuntu 12.04

If you have used other cloud storage service providers such as DropBox, then Insync will be no problem for you to set up and use.

Once installed and authenticated with a Google account, Insync will download the contents from your Google Drive to a 'Insync" directory in your Home folder.

While a file is added or edited from this folder, and Insync is running, the changes will be automatically 'synced' to and from Google Drive.

If you are running Google Drive on another computer, these changes will also be 'synced' across.


Easily share a file or folder by right-clicking on it and selecting 'Get Shareable Link' in the 'Insync' sub-menu.


Error (e.g. ‘login failure), change (e.g. on a shared document) and action (‘User wants to share doc a with you’) notifications are relayed via the Indicator Menu that appears when the application is running.

Quick links for opening your Insync folder or visiting the online interface are also present, as is a sub-menu with links for adding, editing or removing accounts.

insync indicator

Google Docs

Insync supports offline editing of Google documents.

Download and Install on Ubuntu 12.04

Insync for Linux is in beta so expect plenty of bugs.
  • Download the Insync.tar.gz here
  • Extract to your Home folder
  • Open Terminal and navigate into the extracted Insync folder
  • Run sudo ./insync-installer
  • Follow the on-screen instructions
After installing Insync, there are a few things to note:
  • Insync must be started from the Terminal by running insync
  • The app doesn't auto-start by default, and there is no in-app way to enable this