OneDrive Sync On Linux Part 2, With abraunegg/onedrive

Edit: There is a part 3 that solves the daemon problem.

It has been about a year since my first blog post about syncing Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage on Linux. The last time around, I used RCLONE, which required a more hands-on approach. I have found a new tool that I think is better because it can sync automatically in the background without scripting or manually hacking. It is aptly called onedrive that you can find on Github.

Its name might suggest that Microsoft finally ported their Windows and Mac clients to Linux, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. I would still like to see this happen, and if there is ever a time for Microsoft to do it, it is probably now.

Let me briefly explain how I have installed and configured the onedrive tool to suit my needs. Thanks to good default values, it is straightforward, and you might not need any configuration at all.

(I wonder how I managed to not find this tool a year ago)

The documentation is extensive, and onedrive is available on many Linux distributions through the package manager.

On Fedora, which I am currently using, the installation was as simple as:

sudo dnf install onedrive

If you do not have any particular wishes and only want everything in your OneDrive account synced, the default settings are all you need. It is how I did my first synchronization. Like on Windows, files are stored in a "OneDrive" folder, but you can change it with the sync_dir configuration option.

⚠️ IMPORTANT Carefully read the documentation about this setting to avoid data loss from changing the value after initial sync. ⚠️

To try it out, I started with a single folder.

onedrive --synchronize --single-directory Code

I tested with a second one, and then I triggered a full sync.

onedrive --synchronize --verbose

While the sync was happening, I created a custom configuration for some fine-tuning. Here is what I ended up with:

skip_dir = "Documents"
skip_file = "*.obj|*.a|*.o|*.tmp|*.pdb|*.cache|*.class"

# Every 10 minutes
monitor_interval = "600"

My "Documents" folder is actually called "Files". "Documents" on Windows is used by games and applications to dump saves or other application configuration. Nothing I want to be interspersed in my "real" files, hence the separation. On Linux, I do not need my save-games, so I excluded that folder from the sync. The same goes for intermediary files from code compilation. You could also go at it from another angle and provide an allow-list of directories to sync.

Because I do not change my data much on other devices or through the Office online applications while I use my computer simultaneously, I increased the automatic full-sync from five to ten minutes. That should be good enough for me. If I need immediate syncing, I can always trigger it from the command line.

Note that this is only an issue for syncing from the Cloud to the PC. The other way around, onedrive uses inotify to detect changes to files and syncs them immediately to OneDrive when you edit them.

The next thing I have done is to create symlinks from the default "Music", "Pictures", etc. folders to the "OneDrive" equivalents. This way, the Nautilus bookmarks still work.


rmdir Documents
ln -s OneDrive/Files Documents

rmdir Pictures
ln -s OneDrive/Pictures Pictures

Make sure that you have backed up your files before deleting the folders.

The last thing I did was enable the startup of onedrive when I log in to my computer. There are several options, for example, to install onedrive as a system daemon controlled by Systemd. Although I am the only person using my computer, I feel like this is a user-centric application that should run only in the user’s context with the user’s specific configuration. Therefore, I invested a bit more time configuring a Systemd daemon as per this manual.

Create the OneDrive configuration:

$ cat .config/onedrive/config
sync_dir = "/home/rlo/OneDrive"

skip_dir = "Documents"
skip_file = "*.obj|*.a|*.o|*.tmp|*.pdb|*.cache|*.class"

# Every 10 minutes
monitor_interval = "600"

Create the Systemd configuration:

First, copy the service file provided by default after installation.

sudo cp /usr/lib/systemd/system/onedrive@.service /usr/lib/systemd/system/onedrive-rlo@.service

Modify according to your user configuration. All I have done is replacing all %i occurrences with my user name. The most important part is the value passed to --confdir. In my case I have a custom configuration in the default location where onedrive looks anyway, so my changes are basically a waste. It’s just to highlight what you must change. Maybe you want to store your configuration in a different location, and this is where you do it.

$ cat /usr/lib/systemd/system/onedrive-rlo@.service
Description=OneDrive Free Client for rlo

ExecStart=/usr/bin/onedrive --monitor --confdir=/home/rlo/.config/onedrive


Enable the daemon:

systemctl --user enable onedrive-rlo@rlo
systemctl --user start onedrive-rlo@rlo

Unfortunately, this is where it all falls apart. I am not able to install onedrive as a daemon.

$ systemctl --user enable onedrive-rlo@rlo
Failed to enable unit: Unit file onedrive@rlo.service does not exist

I cannot explain it, and I could not find a solution. Systemd seems to be aware of the file, though.

$ systemctl list-unit-files
UNIT FILE                                     STATE           VENDOR PRESET
onedrive-rlo@.service                         disabled        disabled     
onedrive@.service                             disabled        disabled

It does not work with the file that I copied to use as the basis either. What I have done as a workaround instead is starting onedrive through a cron job.

$ crontab -e
@reboot /usr/bin/onedrive --monitor --confdir="/home/rlo/.config/onedrive"

There is one important thing to note about startup. onedrive needs a while to initialize. You should not expect it to pick up changes directly after you logged in immediately. Give it some time before you do anything. Data exchange with Windows works nicely if you keep that in mind. On the other hand, it seems like downloading changes is quicker.

2 thoughts on “OneDrive Sync On Linux Part 2, With abraunegg/onedrive

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