How to Use Google Drive in Linux

Brief: While Google Drive is not officially available for Linux, here are tools to help you use Google Drive in Linux.

Google Drive is an integral part of the Google ecosystem. It offers 15 GB of free storage which is shared across your Gmail account, Google Photos, and various Google and Android services.

Since its debut in 2012, we’ve seen official Google Drive clients for Windows, OS X, Android, and iOS. But unfortunately, an official Linux client is yet to see the light of the day, if ever. This deliberate and continual ignore by Google has prompted Linux users to question if Google hates desktop Linux?

We even prompted the question again in 2021 with an article, but we didn’t get any hints.

However, there’s always an alternative or workaround in the world of Linux. Here we’ll see alternative ways you can use Google Drive in Linux.

Note: Some applications mentioned here are not open source. They are listed here because they are available on Linux and the article focuses on Linux.

Best tools to use Google Drive on Linux

The list here is in no particular order. I have just listed a few Google Drive desktop clients for Linux along with some other hacks.

1. Insync

Insync

Insync is the most feature-rich Google Drive desktop client available out there. You’ll find almost everything you want from a Google Drive client in it, including multiple account support, desktop notification, symlink support, etc.

It is also the best way to use OneDrive on Linux and services like Dropbox.

It’s available for all major Linux distros and the installation process straightforward. Furthermore, it offers a beautiful GUI as well as a command-line interface.

The only downside is that Insync is neither free nor open-source. Insync provides a 15-day free trial period. Thereafter, it’ll cost you about $29 one-time payment for a single account and more for multiple accounts, Insync has per-year pricing plans.

It also has a separate offering with a backup solution, if you’re interested. If you have no issues paying for such a service, it should be a great option.

2. Rclone

Rclone is actually more than just a Google Drive client. It is a command-line program to sync files and directories to and from various cloud storage services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, OneDrive, etc. The installation and usage documentation can be found on their official website. For configuring Google Drive with Rclone, read this.

It’s completely free and open source. You can find the source code in the GitHub repository of Rclone. If you are comfortable working with the command-line interface, you can pick this one.

Rclone Browser Screenshot
Rclone Browser

There are some GUI implementations of this tool like Rclone Browser that let you use Rclone in a slightly easier manner.

3. Drive

This one’s a little interesting. Drive was originally developed by Burcu Dogan, while working on Google Drive platform’s team. So, this is the closest thing we have to an official client.

It’s a command-line tool written with GO programming language. It doesn’t have a background sync feature. Not only that but it’s designed to upload/download files in a push/pull style. Frankly, it’s a little difficult to use it for everyday purposes. You’ll find a complete guide for Drive on its GitHub project.

It isn’t being actively maintained anymore, but it is an intriguing option to try.

4. GNOME

gnome google drive

If you use GNOME as your desktop environment, you’re in luck. Starting from version 3.18, GNOME has baked in a Google Drive feature in their file manager Nautilus.

If you add your Google Account in GNOME Online Accounts, Nautilus will automatically have Google Drive added to its sidebar as a remote filesystem. It’s not actually a desktop client. But you can do some cool things like drag & drop file uploading, opening Google Drive files directly from Nautilus, copying files from Google Drive to your local filesystem, etc.

5. KDE

kio gdrive in dolphin file manager
KIO GDrive in Dolphin File Manager

KDE Plasma Desktop environment also provides a Google Drive integration to its file manager Dolphin. It is achieved through KIO GDrive, a KIO-Slave that enables KIO-aware applications (such as Dolphin, Kate, or Gwenview) to access and edit Google Drive files on the cloud.

It is available to install from all native repositories. Furthermore, it requires signing in with KDE Online Accounts to access the drive.

Unlike the Gnome counterpart, this one loads the GDrive directory under the network directory. Each time we try to modify a file, it is copied to a local cache directory. Once you finish modifying a file, it will prompt you to upload the modified file to GDrive.

It should be a useful option for KDE users!

Honorable Mention

FUSE Filesystem is an open-source utility that lets you mount your Google Drive on Linux with multiple account support. It also provides team Drive support.

It may not be the most user-friendly option, but if you’re looking to try something new, this can be a pick.

You can install it via PPA on Ubuntu, refer to their Github page for more information.

Your pick?

It’s totally disappointing that Google hasn’t yet come forward with an official Google Drive client for Linux, despite the growing popularity of Linux. Until it does, these alternatives are all we have.

Speaking of alternatives, there are many other free cloud storage services and some of them even provide native Linux clients. I use pCloud and MEGA for my personal photo backup.

Which one of these is your favorite? Do you have any other suggestions to use Google Drive in Ubuntu or any other Linux? Are you facing trouble using any of these methods? Whatever the reason is, you’re always welcome to use our comment section.

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  • I’ve given up these cloud storage providers. I have a 1Gbps (up and down) at home, so now I simply use a cluster of Raspberry Pi boards (with 2.5inch SSDs). I just open my file manager (Dolphin), press CTRL + L, then enter “sftp://my_url” in the address bar. While I back everything up nightly, I still have to figure out an offsite backup solution. Thinking of teaming up with a friend – offering him an RPi4 with 1TB storage at my place if he gives me the same at his place. I might try something like “OwnCloud” or “NextCloud” at some point. I’ve just realized how much I really love Linux.

  • rclone seems nice, but it gets a lot of those:

    […] couldn’t find root directory ID: googleapi: Error 403: Rate Limit Exceeded, rateLimitExceeded

    So not really a viable option.