Mounting Google Drive as a folder in Ubuntu

August 21, 2017    google drive ubuntu

At work we’re setting up a system so we can run Python scripts on files in Google Drive, but these scripts need to be continuously running so they need to live on a server. To get this working, we needed to mount our Google Drive folder onto the Ubuntu machine and it was not as straightforward as I hoped. To set up the Google Drive API, these are the steps we took.

Table of Contents

1. Installation of command-line google drive for Ubuntu

google-drive-ocamlfuse is a command-line client for interacting with Google Drive in Ubuntu.

First, add the repository to apt:

utility@ds06:~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alessandro-strada/ppa
[sudo] password for utility:
Sorry, try again.
[sudo] password for utility:
 Mount Google Drive on Ubuntu (via FUSE)
 More info:
Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it

gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpasgt1i04/secring.gpg' created
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpasgt1i04/pubring.gpg' created
gpg: requesting key F639B041 from hkp server
gpg: /tmp/tmpasgt1i04/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key F639B041: public key "Launchpad PPA for Alessandro Strada" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1  (RSA: 1)

Then, update apt and install google-drive-ocamlfuse

utility@ds06:~$ sudo apt update && sudo apt install google-drive-ocamlfuse
Hit:1 xenial InRelease
Get:2 xenial-updates InRelease [102 kB]
Get:3 xenial-security InRelease [102 kB]
Get:4 xenial InRelease [17.5 kB]
Get:5 xenial-backports InRelease [102 kB]
Get:6 xenial/main amd64 Packages [1,368 B]
Get:7 xenial-updates/main amd64 Packages [620 kB]
Get:8 xenial/main i386 Packages [1,372 B]
Get:9 xenial/main Translation-en [932 B]
Get:10 xenial-updates/main i386 Packages [596 kB]
Get:11 xenial-security/main amd64 Packages [344 kB]
Get:12 xenial-updates/main Translation-en [251 kB]
Get:13 xenial-updates/main amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [304 kB]
Get:14 xenial-updates/main DEP-11 64x64 Icons [207 kB]
Get:15 xenial-updates/universe amd64 Packages [517 kB]
Get:16 xenial-updates/universe i386 Packages [497 kB]
Get:17 xenial-updates/universe amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [171 kB]
Get:18 xenial-updates/universe DEP-11 64x64 Icons [226 kB]
Get:19 xenial-updates/multiverse amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [5,892 B]
Get:20 xenial-backports/main amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [3,328 B]
Get:21 xenial-backports/universe amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [5,132 B]
Get:22 xenial-security/main i386 Packages [323 kB]
Get:23 xenial-security/main amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [60.0 kB]
Get:24 xenial-security/main DEP-11 64x64 Icons [52.1 kB]
Get:25 xenial-security/universe amd64 Packages [156 kB]
Get:26 xenial-security/universe i386 Packages [137 kB]
Get:27 xenial-security/universe amd64 DEP-11 Metadata [48.8 kB]
Get:28 xenial-security/universe DEP-11 64x64 Icons [64.2 kB]
Fetched 4,916 kB in 1s (2,680 kB/s)
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
26 packages can be upgraded. Run 'apt list --upgradable' to see them.
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 26 not upgraded.
Need to get 904 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3,978 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 xenial/main amd64 google-drive-ocamlfuse amd64 0.6.21-0ubuntu1~ubuntu16.04.1 [904 kB]
Fetched 904 kB in 1s (650 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package google-drive-ocamlfuse.
(Reading database ... 253806 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../google-drive-ocamlfuse_0.6.21-0ubuntu1~ubuntu16.04.1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking google-drive-ocamlfuse (0.6.21-0ubuntu1~ubuntu16.04.1) ...
Processing triggers for man-db (2.7.5-1) ...
Setting up google-drive-ocamlfuse (0.6.21-0ubuntu1~ubuntu16.04.1) ...

2. Make a ~/googledrive directory

google-drive-ocamlfuse needs the mounted directory to already exist, so let’s make it:

 ✘  Tue 29 Oct - 15:02  ~/data_lg/czbiohub-reference/gencode/mouse/vM21 
 olga@ndnd  mkdir ~/googledrive

3. Get Client ID and Secret from Google Drive API

If you try to run google-drive-ocamlfuse on a headless machine that has no $DISPLAY variable, you’ll get an error.

utility@ds06:~$ google-drive-ocamlfuse
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: www-browser: command not found
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: links2: command not found
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: elinks: command not found
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: links: command not found
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: lynx: command not found
/usr/bin/xdg-open: line 771: w3m: command not found
xdg-open: no method available for opening ''
Error: GDK_BACKEND does not match available displays
/bin/sh: google-chrome: command not found
Couldn't get a file descriptor referring to the console
Cannot retrieve auth tokens.
Failure("Error opening URL:")

If you run with headless then you need to specify the Client ID and Secret in the command line:

utility@ds06:~$ google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/googledrive -headless
Error: In headless mode, you should specify a client id and a client secret

Follow the instructions here to use the wizard to create Google API credentials. Thanks to Foad Green who found these instructions in the sea of tips about Google OAuth setup. I’ve copied them below. There’s a weird step where you’re supposed to “Cancel” instead of press ‘OK’ so pay attention!

  1. Use this wizard to create or select a project in the Google Developers Console and automatically turn on the API. Click Continue , then Go to credentials .
  2. On the Add credentials to your project page, click the Cancel button.
  3. At the top of the page, select the OAuth consent screen tab. Select an Email address , enter a Product name if not already set, and click the Save button.
  4. Select the Credentials tab, click the Create credentials button and select OAuth client ID .
  5. Select the application type Other , enter the name “Drive API Quickstart”, and click the Create button.
  6. Click OK to dismiss the resulting dialog.
  7. Click the file_download (Download JSON) button to the right of the client ID.
  8. Move this file to your working directory and rename it client_secret.json.

4. Copy the downloaded JSON to the utility box

➜  dobby git:(master) scp ~/Downloads/ utility@ds06:~/client_secret.json                                   100%  441   558.6KB/s   00:00

5. Activate the Google Drive API

Now you have the proper authorizations on the computer, but you haven’t allowed that key to use Google Drive specifically yet. If you tried to continue setting up google-drive-ocamlfuse as per the instructions, it’s likely you’ll get an error when you try to see the files: ls: cannot access 'googledrive': Input/output error

utility@ds06:~$ ll
ls: cannot access 'googledrive': Input/output error
total 144
drwxr-xr-x 20 utility utility  4096 Aug 18 12:39 ./
drwxr-xr-x  5 root    root     4096 Aug  9 11:52 ../
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 14:16 .aws/
-rw-------  1 utility utility 14191 Aug 18 12:14 .bash_history
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility   220 Aug  9 11:52 .bash_logout
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility  3771 Aug  9 11:52 .bashrc
drwx------  7 utility utility  4096 Aug 12 13:11 .cache/
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility   441 Aug 18 12:39 client_secret.json
drwxr-xr-x 10 utility utility  4096 Aug 13 12:57 .config/
drwx------  3 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 11:54 .dbus/
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 11:54 Desktop/
drwx------  3 utility utility  4096 Aug 14 17:40 .emacs.d/
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility  8980 Aug  9 11:52 examples.desktop
drwx------  2 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 12:30 .gconf/
drwx------  3 utility utility  4096 Aug 18 12:20 .gdfuse/
drwx------  3 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 12:29 .gnupg/
d?????????  ? ?       ?           ?            ? googledrive/
-rw-------  1 utility utility   362 Aug  9 12:29 .ICEauthority
drwxrwxr-x  5 utility utility  4096 Aug 12 13:12 .local/
drwx------  3 utility utility  4096 Aug 18 12:20 .mozilla/
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug 12 13:56 .nano/
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility   655 Aug  9 11:52 .profile
-rw-rw-r--  1 utility utility    66 Aug 12 13:56 .selected_editor
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug 14 17:44 setup_stuff/
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug 16 10:45 .ssh/
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility     0 Aug  9 14:12 .sudo_as_admin_successful
drwxrwxr-x  2 utility utility  4096 Aug 16 12:30 testing_dir/
-rw-------  1 utility utility   720 Aug 10 11:43 .viminfo
drwx------  2 utility utility  4096 Aug  9 11:54 .vnc/
-rw-rw-r--  1 utility utility   895 Aug 18 12:00 watch_flexo.log
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility  1600 Aug  9 11:52 .Xdefaults
-rw-r--r--  1 utility utility    14 Aug  9 11:52 .xscreensaver
-rw-------  1 utility utility     0 Aug  9 12:27 .xsession-errors
  1. Go back to the Google Developers API Console
  2. Click “Library”
  3. Search for “Google Drive”
  4. Click “Enable”

5. Mount the Google Drive folder!

Use your Client ID and Secret provided from the authentication before to authenticate in -headless mode for google-drive-ocamlfuse:

(py3) dobby@ds05:~/dobby$ google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/googledrive -headless -id -secret asdfasdfasdf
Please, open the following URL in a web browser:
Please enter the verification code: REDACTED
Access token retrieved correctly.

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