Come November 7, cloud storage and synchronization provider Dropbox will drop support for any file system on Linux but ext4.
In fact, Dropbox announced that it will support only four file systems on desktop systems going forward. Company representative Jay revealed as much on the official Dropbox forum.
[..] on Nov. 7, 2018, we’re ending support for Dropbox syncing to drives with certain uncommon file systems. The supported file systems are NTFS for Windows, HFS+ or APFS for Mac, and Ext4 for Linux.
Dropbox displays notifications to affected users that warns them that Dropbox will stop syncing if they don’t move the Dropbox location.
Dropbox does not support Microsoft’s Resilient File System ReFS or Fat32, and no file system but ext4 on Linux.
The desktop system requirements highlight the new requirements for all supported operating system. The Linux requirements list Ubuntu 10.04 or higher and Fedora 19 or higher as the only operating systems that Dropbox’s client supports officially.
It notes that users need an Ext4 formatted hard drive and that would include the majority of Linux users. Dropbox does not mention, however, that encrypted ext4 volumes won’t be supported either come November 7 as customers who run encrypted volumes get the same “sync will stop working” notifications as users who run another file system such as Brtfs on Linux.
Why is Dropbox making the change?
Company rep Jay provides an answer for that as well:
A supported file system is required as Dropbox relies on extended attributes (X-attrs) to identify files in the Dropbox folder and keep them in sync. We will keep supporting only the most common file systems that support X-attrs, so we can ensure stability and a consistent experience.
Several other file systems that are used on devices running GNU/Linux use X-attrs. The list includes ext2 and ext3, JFS, Btrfs, OrangeFS, or Reiser4.
Jay suggests that users who run supported systems may still get the notification if a computer with an unsupported file system was used recently or linked to the Dropbox account.
If you received a notification, but are running one of the supported file systems, it’s possible that you may have recently had a computer linked that was running an unsupported file system but have been since upgraded, or that computer is no longer being used.
If Dropbox does not change the requirements Linux users won’t be able to use any file system but ext4 for the Dropbox folder. Even more problematic than that is that Dropbox does not support encrypted ext4 volumes right now suggesting that systems that make use of these will stop syncing with Dropbox as well.
A workaround has been published on the Metabubble website which affected users may want to take a look at.
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