How to Integrate Google Services into Your Linux Desktop (Part 2)

This is the continuation of the “Integrate Google Services into Your Linux Desktop” series.

While Google’s online storage was previously just the folders you kept your Google Docs in, now the company wants to position it as an alternative to services like Dropbox and (i.e. as a generic online storage medium). In addition, the expansion of the Android Market to “Google Play” brings with it movies, TV shows, music, books, and magazines. The community, including Google itself, has had its work cut out for it keeping up with all these developments. But fortunately, solutions exist for Linux users to enjoy these services as well.


Google Drive isn’t as transparent of an online file store as, say, (which is accessible via WebDAVS). But in addition to the InSync application recently highlighted here there are two other solutions that will allow Linux users to easily access these files:

Grive: Grive is a command-line client that will synchronize a local directory with your GDrive. Currently an in-development project, it’s installable via the excellent Web Upd8 PPA in Ubuntu, which as of this writing is up to date with the latest version. Once installed, the simple command “grive” will synchronize your current directory with Google Drive.

The figures above show this authentication process, where the command line program asks you to open a URL. Once you open this, Google will confirm that you want to give grive access to your account.

Once you confirm, you’ll be given a code to paste back into the terminal where you ran the grive command.

GWOffice: Google Web Office, or GWOffice, takes a different approach. Rather than handling the upload and download of files from GDrive (which, if they were created in, or converted to, Google format will need converted back to a format like ODF), GWOffice provides simple, pared down interface to Google’s word processor, spreadsheet, etc…

GWOffice is also available in Ubuntu by adding this PPA to your software sources.


Google’s Picasa is steadily losing mindshare to photo-only services such as, but the availability of an API means the free software community can support it with Linux applications. The F-Spot and Eye of Gnome (both installable from the universe and main repositories in Ubuntu, respectively) both include functions to upload pictures to Picasa, as does Shotwell, the default picture manager. The figure below illustrates activating the Picasa plug-in in Eye of GNOME (this requires installing the eog-plugins package), and the resulting menu item that will upload the currently-viewed picture to Picasa.


While a Linux version of the Picasa application was available at one time, it’s also possible to install the Windows version using WINE by following these instructions.



Unlike it’s abandonment of Picasa’s Linux client, Google has made good on its promise to release a Linux client for the Play store’s music section. A beta of the application is available here, installable by clicking on the downloaded package (the page has versions for Ubuntu and Fedora/openSUSE, in both 32- and 64-bit flavors). Once installed, the program presents options for uploading your existing music collection to Play (in order to stream it to Android devices or via the web), or to download purchased music from Play to your local machine. As someone who was recently forced over to a metered data plan, I’m glad they are supporting the offload of purchased music to a filesystem, as that’s how I’ll be accessing it.

This concludes our Google services on Linux Desktop series. What other ways do you use to access Google services on your Linux desktop?

Aaron Peters

Aaron is an interactive business analyst, information architect, and project manager who has been using Linux since the days of Caldera. A KDE and Android fanboy, he'll sit down and install anything at any time, just to see if he can make it work. He has a special interest in integration of Linux desktops with other systems, such as Android, small business applications and webapps, and even paper.

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