Dropbox

Things I like about Dropbox :

  • They have a native Linux version, properly packaged for a wide variety of distros.
  • Nice integration with Nautilus
  • It Just Works
  • It sychronises the local Dropbox folder, meaning it’s usable offline, and you can access files at native speed
  • Web interface is pretty decent, with some nice touches, like offering folders for downloading as a .zip

Things that I don’t like about Dropbox :

  • It’s not open source or free software – while the Nautilus integration piece is GPL, the dropbox daemon is closed, and this is the bit that does all the clever work. I guess Evenflow are worried that if the whole thing is open, any tom, dick, or harry could rig up some S3 storage and offer a competing service. On the other hand if it was open I would be using it everywhere; to sync to my file server, to usb drives, and would have already bought the upgraded service (although I’m assuming it could be made generic and still have all the good points above).
  • I don’t mind that they require source code assignment for patches to the nautilus part, however I think it’s somewhat misleading to equate what they’re doing to assigning copyright to FSF for GCC contributions. Assigning copyright to a commercial entity is quite different to assigning copyright to an nfp like the FSF (especially given their 20+ year record).
  • Currently only monitors the $HOME/Dropbox folder (ability to sync any folder is a medium term feature)

Overall I’m liking the Dropbox experience and starting to rely on the features, which is why the licensing / business model is such a dilema. While my data would never be trapped if the company went under (at least one machine would have the definitive files) it would likely be a significant disruption.