Drop Your Dropbox and SparkleShare Instead!

We love Dropbox here at Linux Journal. It's cross-platform, offers a decent free offering and generally "just works". It has some problems though. Dropbox is proprietary. Dropbox stores a copy of your data in its own data repositories. Dropbox is limited in size, especially with its free accounts.

Enter SparkleShare. SparkleShare is an open-source project that allows you to start a Dropbox-like service on your own. It's a very new project and needs time to mature, but the beta is promising. Also, because you run the server yourself, there are no limits to the amount of data you can store. It's also cross-platform and has some of the same sharing features offered by its proprietary brother.

Check out the early stages of SparkleShare at www.sparkleshare.org, and if you're a programmer, consider contributing. I'm excited for a stable alternative to Dropbox that I can host myself.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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John Holman's picture

I use Dropbox all the time.Even with the free account if you refer friends you can get up to 8 Gb free.Will have to check out SparkleShare.

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Anonymous's picture

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My sparkleshare install & UNINSTALL script

Anonymous's picture


Phillip Metzger's picture

Maybe building with rsync could be an alternative. I have been successful at using rsync cross-platform. It just need a good GUI.

I use rsync for backups but it essentially does the same thing: storing and replicating.


dontodd's picture

Who needs the hands-free convenience of Dropbox when you can spend all your time administering your own server? I don't understand how this is a replacement to Dropbox at all. If you're aiming at the Linux geek that already runs a server, why wouldn't that person use already available tools to mimic Dropbox? If you're not aiming at the Linux geek, then who in their right mind would want this sort of alternative? Props to the project, boo to the misleading headline.

If you're aiming at the Linux

boklm's picture

If you're aiming at the Linux geek that already runs a server, why wouldn't that person use already available tools to mimic Dropbox?

Which are ?

If you're not aiming at the Linux geek, then who in their right mind would want this sort of alternative?

Someone who cares about his data, and wants it stored on computers he controls ? Someone who does not like having a closed source software playing with his data ?

My friend runs a little home

Sannomo's picture

My friend runs a little home server and we access its content through FTP.
I use dropbox for a few little hacks like hosting files that I can't host with my free web hosting service because of bandwidth limitations.

I can't see how SparkleShare would better these two.

I think you're missing the

RandomUser8274's picture

I think you're missing the point. You're suggesting FTP to your friend's home server is like Dropbox? I use programs like Dropbox because I have a home linux server, a linux workstation at work, plus two laptops. And I have a bunch of random files that I'd like to be able to access from all these machines. I don't want the data stored on the internet, I want it on local disk, so I can get at it even without an internet connection. but I don't want each machine to have a different copy of the data either, hence they all need to be kept in sync automatically. That's what Dropbox does, and that's what Sparkleshare does.

No Mono for me... thanks...

Jerry McBride's picture

Nice project. Really had me for a moment then I read it requires Mono. Sorry, I don't need this. Dropbox may be closed source, but it doesn't use Mono...

---- Jerry McBride

No need on mono over here

jza's picture

Yay for Python... boo for Monkey.. I mean Mono

Linuxer, Rapper, and part time lunatic
Living in the sandy beaches of Cancun

I agree with Jerry

Marcelo A.'s picture

I agree with Jerry

No chance

MadTom1999's picture

not with mono in it. Any idea what the mono bits do - should be able to re-write that in free code.

Um, what is "free" in this context?

carlfink's picture

Mono is GPL. What definition of "free" are you using that turns a GPL project non-free simply because it's similar to a Microsoft product?

Do you refuse to use mice because MS also sells mice? Seriously, what do you mean?

Go read Groklaw

MadTom1999's picture

Check out Groklaw and RMS re Mono.
The GPL cant protect you from MS pile of patents on Mono.

Good point, thanks. I haven't

xrat's picture

Good point, thanks. I haven't thought about this, yet.

I've found my next project to contribute to

Miguel Hernandez's picture

Looks like I've found my next project to contribute to (thx Shawn!). Thinking of helping out via testing, documentation & translations. It seems a very worthwhile project. It's not just the Dropbox security scare from last week but it's also open source & self-hosted. Include no storage limit (due to self-hosting) & I've got 4 MAJOR reasons to back this project any little way I can.

With so many companies mining & selling off your private data, I really think that self-hosting (& obviously open source) is the future. Once people realize what companies like Facebook, for example, are doing with their private data, projects like Diaspora (https://joindiaspora.com/) will start taking off.

Miguel Hernandez is the Founder & Head Geek at the OpenMindz Group, an IT consulting and web development firm in Los Angeles, California.


Anonymous's picture

What about iFolder? The software was created by Novell and will do many of the same things.


Many but not all (I think

xrat's picture

Many but not all (I think iFolder doesn't keep a history of changes/versioning). Though my greatest concern with iFolder is that Novell will (or already did) drop (financial) support, and the community is not big enough to provide sustainable progress. For historical reasons, I am afraid the code base is also not the easiest to maintain. I'd not be surprised if the .3 bug fix release was the last for a while.
Personally, when I last researched it (in January) I opted for Dropbox where needed and possible, ssh/rsync for stability and safety, and an RSS feed subscription of SparkleShare ;-)

one major advantage of the cloud

arthurm's picture

the advantage i'm thinking of, not necessarily outweighing the freedom of running your own cloud, is that an internet hosting service usually includes regular backups.
who among us is so good about backup, that we know the data will be there when the hardware chokes ? not me... and i know i should

Sparkleshare uses git, project lipsync

fak3r's picture

Sparkleshare looks good, my concern (aside from the Mono dependancies, which I've had trouble installing in Ubuntu) is the use of Git as a backend. While Git is a great system, storing large binaries is not it's strong point. (Google "storing large binaries in git") Be sure to checkout project lipsync (http://lipsync.it) where we're working on creating a stable/scalable backend using proven tools like rync, cron, ssh and lsyncd, and worrying about integrating with an existing frontend, like Sparkleshare, later.

SparkleShare vs Oatmeal

Bill B.'s picture

Didn't you recently do a review of Oatmeal? How's that compare against SparkleShare? As best I can tell, the only advantage SparkleShare has (and it's huge, IMHO) is free unlimited storage and not having your files stored out in the cloud somewhere.

What is oatmeal?

fak3r's picture

Can you give me a link to that? A Google search for Oatmeal and Dropbox does not help me find a project page. Thanks!

My bad!!

Bill B's picture

*hanging head in shame*

I meant Spideroak. Oatmeal is a rather risque online comic.

Can I just call it a bad day when I posted? Please? :-P

Drop Your Dropbox and SparkleShare Instead!

Linux Rants's picture

SparkleShare, I've been looking everywhere for you!! Shawn Powers has developed mind reading skills.


"Dawn: When men of reason go to bed."
— Ambrose Bierce