Home Learn Linux Linux Tutorials Install an Open Source Dropbox Alternative on Linux in 10 Steps

Install an Open Source Dropbox Alternative on Linux in 10 Steps

Dropbox has made its mark as an integral productivity tool. Simple file sharing and syncing makes it easy to keep all your important documents and files on hand, wherever you are.  

If you're anything like me, you've hit the space limit of your free Dropbox account, and wondered if the Open Source world has any alternatives. Good news! Sparkleshare has you covered. Combined with a Bitbucket account and a little effort, you can have practically unlimited storage, for free!

What would you not use Sparkleshare for? Git is not designed for large files. Bitbucket will not allow you to upload a file bigger than a 100MB, and you may see a significant performance impact for files over 10MB. Sparkleshare may not be the best choice if you're sharing your MP3 collection, or other sizeable files.  

Editor’s Note: The tutorial portion of this article has been removed. Atlassian confirmed that using Bitbucket to store anything other than code violates its terms of service. (Thanks for the message Marcus Bertrand.)

Knowing this we are honoring their request to remove the instructions. We have however retained the comments as this discussion could be informative to future projects/ storage solutions. Thanks again for bringing this issue to our attention and weighing in with your comments.



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  • Gaurav Said:

    You can still find the Sparkleshare client on f-droid.

  • Tim Said:

    Hey Gaurav, cool, I'd never heard of f-droid.

  • Ryan Said:

    Why use agit? You can install the git command line tool directly to your phone, all you need to do is root it.

  • Radin Said:

    Im not sure why you would suggest this as a solution to running out of Dropbox space, Bitbucket isn't meant to be used as a file hosting alternative to Dropbox, its not suitable for that kind of file hosting and its not what they want it used for. ' We do expect that you are polite and respect fair use. If you push your entire MP3 collection that is not polite or respectful. Of course, too, if you are using Bitbucket services to do something dishonest or evil – like, say, spamming – that isn't polite or respectful either. We regularly look for these kinds of evil users and remove them. Keep in mind Bitbucket is a code hosting service not a file sharing service.' Use something intended for file hosting instead like MediaGoblin ( ) (a Free Software solution to the problem) rather than the free code hosting service that Bitbucket generously provide.

  • Tim Said:

    Hey Radin, Thanks for reading the tutorial. I some research about the issue you mention, and came across this: Atlassian's response wasn't "That is forbidden", it was "don't use it for MP3 sharing". I use Sparkleshare+Bitbucket to sync documents like resumes, articles, short stories, some images, etc, across my computers. Thats exactly how I use Dropbox as well. My thinking was, get people started the easy way, and when they figure it out, they can move on to hosting their own Git repositories.

  • Matteo Italia Said:

    As other have said, even if it's not explicitly forbidden, I'd say it goes against the "fair use" of the service: it's a service intended for code hosting, not a general purpose file hosting service. The difference is important, both in resources used on their side (code is typically small, diffs are easily calculated and the disk space/bandwidth consumed is reasonable) and in their revenue model (if a programmer finds that BitBucket works fine he may want to try the paid plan or recommend it to his company). Using it for file storage is heavy on resource usage, and gives no potential revenue - if you wanted to spend some money you'd just spend it on better plans of Dropbox or whatever service actually intended for file syncing/sharing. Also, hoping that people will then move to paid git hosting (or host git on their service) is *at the very least* optimistic (especially since, if what you want is file syncing, there are better alternatives than abusing git). To sum it up, IMHO such an article shouldn't have been posted here; you are encouraging a wide public (who often doesn't know better) to abuse of a free service, which potentially can lead BitBucket and similar services to offer a worse service to those who use fairly their platform, which is particularly stupid since there are a lot of other free file sharing platforms.

  • SYSMS Said:

    Maybe give OwnCloud ( a chance?

  • Bl_nk Said:

    Nor was your research used to create that well thought out comment. Owncloud has become a great product. Source: Administration and deployment of multiple 100+ tenant systems.

  • Marcus Riemer Said:

    While this technically doesn't seem to be a violation of BitBuckets rules it's rude at least. Please don't ruin an excellent *CODE* hosting service by recommending it as a file storage solution :(

  • Damian Nowak Said:

    It should be noted that Bitbucket's terms of use forbid using it as data storage. > We do expect that you are polite and respect fair use. If you push your entire MP3 collection that is not polite or respectful. > We regularly look for these kinds of evil users and remove them. > Keep in mind Bitbucket is a code hosting service not a file sharing service

  • Lazarus Said:

    Writing a tutorial on how to abuse Bitbucket is the worst way to say "thanks". From what I know Bitbucket is the only source hosting service that offers FREE and UNLIMITED storage space. Enjoy your free private repos I'm sure Bitbucket will soon have to remove this feature thanks to some selfish dickheads.

  • Tim Said:

    Hey Guys, I really appreciate that you took the time to read the tutorial and comment. I think I have 3 more things to say. 1) Atlassian has been asked about this exact thing, and didn't just say "Don't do that" when they had the opportunity. 2) As far as I know, people don't use Dropbox to share their whole MP3 collection around, so that is a bit of a red herring. I didn't advocate for that. 3) Bitbucket is one of the default options when setting up a hosted project in Sparkleshare. Sparkleshare bills itself as a Dropbox alternative, and hadn't provided documentation on all of the default options. All this tutorial does it is make it easier to use one of the default options in Sparkleshare. Thanks again for your feedback.

  • Mikko Ahlroth Said:

    It's not about the amount of files, it's about the principle. BitBucket is not a file dump or a file sharing platform. It is, as their title says, "free source code hosting". Not your personal documents. Not your family photos. Source code. You posted a link where you said Atlassian didn't forbid this. It seems I understand it completely differently. They expressly state "BitBucket is a code hosting site". Your own personal documents, resumes, photos etc. are *not* code! I cannot see how you can think that link gives you permission to store anything there. About the MP3 thing, in your article (beginning with the title) you are presenting BitBucket as an alternative to Dropbox. Why do you think people would limit their files to just plain text or small files? They'll use it as a Dropbox alternative like you told them. Most would skim right past your tiny paragraph stating that this "may not be the best way to store MP3s", I know I did at the first reading. And when you stated this was a Dropbox alternative, you totally advocated for storing big (read: binary) files in it. Even if you yourself only use it for small stuff, I'd imagine most do not. I share a lot of photos online and this article would lead me to believe that I can dump an album full of photos (hundreds of megabytes) on BitBucket. I don't like the idea of Sparkeshare either. Seems they are advocating the same thing, dumping personal documents into source code hosting services. I think they should remove BitBucket and maybe Github from their default options or state it clearly that these are for source code and software projects only. Now if BitBucket themselves post a note saying "it's ok to upload whatever files", then fine, but since they have not, I think you should remove this article.

  • Deeks Said:

    Everything to love about this. Exploring new ways to consider and integrate tools (aka hacker culture 101), and giving awesome companies an insight into potential product offerings. I know I'd switch to Atlassian for local geolocated Cloud-based backup.

  • Hylke Said:

    Please read up on the information provided on You sound misinformed. I also don't see why you're blaming SparkleShare for being able to store anything on Git hosting sites when any piece of software using Git underneath can do the same. The Github and Bitbucket presets are there to make it easier for more people to work on existing open source projects that are hosted there. You would have known that if you had taken the effort to read the site. If you think things could be worded better, send me a pull request: Hylke (the creator of SparkleShare)

  • aether Said:

    Are you the same Tim Hildred who's with Red Hat engineering content services? Doesn't matter, I'm pretty sure you don't work a minimum wage gas jockey job during the day and take security contracts at night just to get by. I do, and you know what?, I pay my a vps hosting bill because I was raised to pay my own way. I'm pretty sure you could afford your own host but I expect you somehow think you're clever taking advantage of an altruistic service. I also used to waitress. You strike me as the type of guy who comes in, makes every demand under the sun, interrupts your server when they're with other customers, etc. etc. and doesn't leave a tip....just because you can. Well, you're not clever. Anyone can be an overly entitled jerk, it's just most people don't have the rotted soul that makes that seem like a good idea.

  • Hans Said:

    This is why free services die. gj, tim.

  • Libby Clark Said:

    Thanks everyone for your comments and thoughtful concerns. As a reminder, Tim is a freelancer for and as with all of our freelancers, he does not represent an official position of The Linux Foundation. Tim presents a creative hack of free services that is attempting to solve a common problem for Linux users. But I also recognize your criticisms that it's not the intended purpose of this free, open source service. I welcome the feedback and debate that has ensued and trust that anyone reading the tutorial will make their own value judgements and act accordingly. ~Libby Clark, Editor of

  • Mr. Smith Said:

    To someone with sense at, please take down this article. Using Bitbucket as an alternative to Dropbox is nothing short of abusing their (BB's) services. You wouldn't want freebies to disapper now, would you?

  • Marcus Bertrand Said:

    Please do NOT follow this guide. Using Bitbucket as a backup service is against our End User Agreement. We will monitor and enforce restrictions on any non-code repository found on Bitbucket. For more information, please review our terms at:, Section 3.5 which states End User agrees to use Bitbucket solely as a code repository and not to upload any other content to Bitbucket (e.g., music or video). If anyone reading this article needs further clarification of this, please contact us directly at

  • Jane Z Said:

    Just a quick heads up for a good new cloud service run by Barracuda (the networking and security company), They give you 15gb free as base, but you and I can both get 5gb extra if you use referral link such as mine:

  • Kabocho Said:

    Yet this tweet from @linuxfoundation :

  • ttkk Said:

    After my external drive died, and I loose all of my photos, i was very angry. Then I tried Dropbox (fine, but not enough space for me) and Sugarsync (for me it was very slow). Now i am using new awesome service "Copy". its very easy to use, with nice web, and you will get there 15GB of free space. If you want more space, just register on Copy and install their application to backup your data by this link: Then you will have awesome 20GB of free space! They have nice bonus, by each referral you can get now 5GB for free, so you can get unlimited free space!

  • Bastian Said:

    Hi Tim, It works now! My SparkleShare directory was empty, but I found the SSH key inside ~/config/sparkleshare/ (the file with a * extension). The SSH key was different from the one I had already written but only because the original key I had entered didn't contain my computer's name at the end. Seems like SparkleShare forgot to copy this information to the clipboard when I pressed 'copy to clipboard' after first installation. I will re-install SparkleShare and try again. Perhaps it is a bug?

  • Bastian Said:

    Nevermind, I don't know what happened yesterday but it seems to work perfectly fine now. Thanks for the help! :-)

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