Sync Tomboy Notes using Dropbox

Tomboy is a great note-taking application with a neat integration into your Linux Desktop — but did you know that you can install it on your Windows machines as well? (And your Macs?) Once I discovered this, I immediately started looking for a solution to synchronize my notes between my Tomboy installation on my Windows and Ubuntu desktops.

The solution I found wasn’t too difficult to set up. The basic idea is to store the notes in Dropbox, and let Dropbox handle the synchronization (which it does so well on Windows, Linux, Mac, and various mobile devices already).

I’ll walk you through the setup in Ubuntu here.

If you have a basic Gnome-based Ubuntu installation, you already have Tomboy notes. You’ll probably want to add it to your Gnome panel by right-clicking a panel and selecting Add to panel.

When the selection dialog opens, search for Tomboy and you’ll find the application. Double-click or click the Add button to add the Tomboy applet to your Gnome panel.

Now install Dropbox if it isn’t already on your system. You can follow instructions on the Dropbox web site, or just run something like wget; sudo aptitude install nautilus-dropbox_0.6.7_i386.deb to download and install the package. Once the package itself is installed, you’ll need to open Dropbox, allow it to install and setup it’s proprietary daemon and set up your Dropbox account. It’s all pretty simple.

With Tomboy and Dropbox both installed and ready to roll, we will configure Tomboy to store its notes in a Dropbox directory. Right-click the Tomboy icons and select Preferences.

Click the Synchronization tab. We want to use a Local Folder for the service, and the folder path will be something like ~/Dropbox/Tomboy Notes. You will need to create the Tomboy Notes folder if this is your first time walking through this. It’s not a bad idea to enable the setting Automatically Sync in Background Every 10 Minutes.

And with that, get crackin’ on your notes. Tomboy is easy to use for storing quick thoughts about current projects, keeping notes and sources for research, and even just jotting-down a web site URL. Now that these notes are being automatically synchronized in Dropbox, they’re accessible from any other computer.

A quick note about mobile Dropbox: You can actually access your Tomboy Notes from your iPhone or other mobile device and read the raw XML files (.note files) in the Dropbox mobile app. The markup won’t be rendered, it will be raw code but it’s usable in a quick-pinch when you need to recall a name, URL or something along those lines.


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