December 4, 2012

Google Drive nixed

It took Google a long time to release itsĀ Google Drive product. People had come up with work-arounds involving storing files as attachments to Gmail messages. When it was finally released earlier this year, it was almost too late. Products such as Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive (variously named Live and other monickers) had filled the file-sharing, synchronization, cloud storage void.

Google Drive is an evolution of Google Docs, an online authoring environment for documents, spreadsheets, and presentation. Spreadsheets can have a form-based front end. Recently, I used this form/spreadsheet interface to build an online survey used by a couple hundred folks.

By allowing any type of file to be stored in then-Google Docs, Google’s online file service became a handy way to store and share files among teams. You can share individual files or an array of folders, sub-folders, and files with one person, many, or the world. You can even use it to host your web server content.

In parallel, I decided to move back to Linux. There are some tools that I need to use and, I hope, develop, work that is more easily done on Linux.

To my surprise and disappointment, I discovered that I can’t access non-document files that are stored on Google Drive when I’m using a browser running on Linux. In this case, I had stored some executable files in a tools folder on Google Drive. I wanted to download them to my Linux installation.

No joy.

In order to download non-document files, you need to have an application running on your system. Google makes its drive application for Windows, Mac, and various portable devices, but not Linux. Note that the error message is so broken that the link to the image is missing.

For today, I’ll need to switch back to Windows. Longer term, I will have to move many of my files to Dropbox, which does make a Linux client.