How to Install Dropbox in Ubuntu Using SOCKS Proxy

As a Chinese, I live behind the G.F.W. and have to get access Internet through an SSH tunnel. However, the Dropbox installation procedure do not support either SOCKS5 or http proxy. (Yes, the document says it works with http_proxy environment variable, but seems it does not.) Thanks to two great tools: proxychains and tsocks, which can launch any application and handle their network communication request through a pre-configured proxy. With the help of these tools, I can install Dropbox on a brand new Ubuntu machine behind the G.F.W. Here follows the steps:

  1. Install tsocks (or proxychains) under Ubuntu using synaptic. Thanks to Ubuntu, who made these tools standard packages.
  2. Get a SSH tunnel (in any way you like). I paid for an account. So I can setup a proxy tunnel by the following command line on my computer:
    ssh -D 7070 my-username@my-service-provider-url
  3. Configure your Web browser to use the tunnel. In Firefox, select to use SOCKS5 proxy: localhost:7070. This enables you access to Dropbox’s homepage and download the Ubuntu package.
  4. Install the package by clicking it in Nautilus. To check the installation, in a shell, type the command
    dropbox start -i

    If you can see some error messages complaining network access restriction, you made it.

  5. Add the following lines to /etc/tsocks.conf:
    server =
    server_type = 5
    server_port = 7070

    If you are using proxychains, you need to modify /etc/proxychains.conf or make your own ~/.proxychains.conf.

  6. This time, using tsocks to launch the Dropbox online install procedure:
    tsocks dropbox start -i

    Cross your fingers and wait for it to download and install Dropbox, until you see Dropbox icon appears on the top-right corner of your screen.

  7. Right-click Dropbox icon, select “Preferences”, and set SOCKS5 proxy like you did for Firefox. Hopefully, Dropbox starts to sync files you need now.
Good luck!