How to Set up Insync for Chrome OS

Published by Jesse Afolabi on

Insync file options

The so-called year of the Linux desktop is – theoretically speaking – upon us via Chrome OS. There’s no doubt about the headway the platform has made over the years and it makes for an exciting journey having been a loyal user of the platform for the good part of the past four years.

Google made Android and Debian Linux available to the platform via a container over the past ten months and it’s has opened end users to new possibilities inevitably establishing Chrome OS as a legitimate threat to the duopoly that is Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s MacOS.

While the platform has matured considerably, it’s not exactly a hassle-free experience if you’re considering using the Linux functionality consistently. It requires a fair amount of familiarity with the terminal and it doesn’t exactly strike an interest in the majority of Chrome OS users in its current state. So basically, until Google provides a streamlined option for app installation via the debian Linux repository, we’re basically stuck with theterminal and we’ll be providing you with content relevant to enhacing your productivity while with the host of Linux apps now available at your fingertips.

While Linux has been native to the Chrome OS platform for a while now, its file management system is still isolated from the actual Chrome OS directory structure which severely limits its integration with the rest of the system. My proposed temporary solution to this – pending the time Google releases the purported native support for the Linux file system via the Chrome OS file manager –  is Insync.

Insync, a common tool in the Linux community, is an established cross-platform and third-party cloud service integrator that can interface with Google Drive to especially cater to the cloud needs of Linux users.

Installing Insync is as easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy *cringe* as it basically requires you downloading the prepackaged file from their website and running the installer from th Linux directory in your Chrome OS file manager.

This will essentially enable you to sign into your Google Drive account and map it to any directory you may specify in your Linux home directory to enable to seamless sync operation to your cloud storage while you’re working. Basically, this enables you to bypass the rather cumbersome process of constantly copying your files from your Linux directory to another directory in your Chrome file system whenever you’re done working with a file or project. It’s worth noting that Insync is a paid service with a trial of 15 days. 

Installation procedure

Insync file list

We have two options of installation; you can either download and install the Debian stretch variant of the the package directly to your system or optionally add the repo and download accordingly. 

For the first option, you want to proceed to the insynhq website and navigate to the Linux package option, hit the downward facing arrow and from the drop-down menu, Debian stretch because that’s the specific variant the Linux system within Chrome OS is based on. Save the file to the specified Linux directory within the Chrome OS file manager. You’ll then proceed to open the .deb package and the installation will commence and complete without any other necessary interaction with the system. 

Alternatively, you can manually add the repo to your Debian subsystem and subsequently install a native Linux file manager like Nemo or Thunar via the Linux terminal cause you’ll need it for later navigation.

sudo apt install thunar
sudo apt install nemo

Then proceed to follow the remainder of the instructions below. You’ll need to add the public GPG key to allow apt to authenticate the Insync repository.

$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys ACCAF35C

Alternatively; 

$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys ACCAF35C

provided the first one doesn’t work.

Then proceed to this directory, /etc/apt/sources.list.d/  using the file manager you downloaded and create a file called ” insync.list ” with the following content:

deb http://apt.insynchq.com/[DISTRIBUTION] [CODENAME]

Update the apt repository:

$ sudo apt update

Install Insync:

$ sudo apt install insync

This is our proposed workaround until Google finds a permanent solution to this. Have you had any luck with Insync in the past and on your Chrome OS device? Share your experience with us in the comments.


Jesse Afolabi

Having been a technical writer for over 4 years, and co-founded Fossmint.com in 2016, I took my passion to the next level with the founding of Itschromeos.com which so happens to revolve around my love for open-source technologies and Chrome OS. It's my hope to venture into new avenues in the tech universe and take you with me on that ride.

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