How to cre­ate a Drop­box-like file syn­chro­niza­tion set­up on the Rasp­berry Pi with Resilio Sync

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This post is about how to sync your pho­tos on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame between one or sev­er­al com­put­ers using Resilio Sync. In short, Resilio Sync is like Drop­box but for the Rasp­berry Pi. It is espe­cial­ly use­ful if you want to allow one or more per­sons to add or mod­i­fy the pic­tures with­out access to the local wifi net­work to which the pic­ture frame con­nects.

It is ide­al for a fam­i­ly where, e.g., the pho­to frame is with the par­ents, and the chil­dren live out­side of the fam­i­ly home or for com­pa­nies want­i­ng to admin­is­ter an adver­tis­ing frame in the recep­tion area remote­ly.

Resilio Sync works like Drop­box with the dif­fer­ence that no copies of the files are being stored in the Cloud or on any oth­er serv­er. And unlike Drop­box, it works on the Rasp­berry Pi.

I'll show you how to install it on your Rasp­berry Pi and to share your image fold­er with any­one you like.

Fold­er shar­ing among col­leagues, fam­i­ly & friends

Imag­ine you have three chil­dren liv­ing all over the world who can all quick­ly add images to your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame at home. It can be a lot of fun.

When one of my nieces got preg­nant, she didn't imme­di­ate­ly tell her moth­er. Instead, she uploaded an ultra­son­ic image with a lit­tle baby-peanut to her par­ents' dig­i­tal pic­ture frame using Resilio Sync. So imag­ine the sur­prise when a few days lat­er, this image ran­dom­ly came up on the screen. Tears rolled, calls were made, bot­tles were uncorked.

To open up your dig­i­tal pho­to frame to oth­ers is quite sim­ple. You are undoubt­ed­ly famil­iar with Drop­box, the soft­ware that allows you to sync and share entire fold­ers with busi­ness part­ners or friends, or to keep a copy in the cloud. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Drop­box does not work on ARM-based com­put­ers like the Rasp­berry Pi.

Resilio, how­ev­er, does. It is a sim­i­lar tool with one excit­ing advan­tage.

Resilio Sync - like Drop­box but more pri­vate

Resilio Sync doesn't store the files on a cloud serv­er but keeps them only syn­chro­nized between peers. This means that your data is nev­er shared out­side of the com­mu­ni­ty that you define. This is great for man­ag­ing your pho­tos on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame.

Resilio Sync used to be called Bit­Tor­rent Sync but was spun out of Bit­Tor­rent Inc. in 2016. The com­pa­ny claims to offer "for a wide array of appli­ca­tions such as large file col­lab­o­ra­tion, file sync, fold­er sync, auto­mat­ed back­up, and send­ing large files faster and more secure­ly, the indus­try lead­ing and fastest pri­vate cloud solu­tion trust­ed by mil­lions of con­sumers and thou­sands of busi­ness world­wide."

For many years, I have come to appre­ci­ate the speed and sta­bil­i­ty of Resilio Sync. It works great for man­ag­ing your images on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame from wher­ev­er you are. And it's free for home use.

Why Drop­box doesn't work on the Rasp­berry Pi

It took me a while to fig­ure this out. I tin­kered with an app called Drop­box Uploader but wasn't suc­cess­ful to make it sync bi-direc­­tion­al­­ly.

Drop­box native­ly isn't com­piled for the ARM proces­sor. Any solu­tions you can find are more or less com­pli­cat­ed workarounds and emu­late an x86 envi­ron­ment.

To my knowl­edge, Drop­box has not announced any plans to bring it to the Rasp­berry Pi.

How to install Resilio Sync on your Rasp­berry Pi

Tested with: RASPBIAN BUSTER (JUNE 2019)

The fol­low­ing instruc­tions assume that you have access to your Rasp­berry Pi via Ter­mi­nal (for Win­dows PuT­TY) and that you have file shar­ing acti­vat­ed. If you haven't, please read the arti­cle "How to set up your Rasp­berry Pi for your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame" first.

On your nor­mal PC or Mac, down­load the ARM HF ver­sion of Resilio Sync for Home Use from the Resilio web­site. This is a free ver­sion that has all the func­tion­al­i­ty that we need for our use case. If you have a cor­po­rate use case, you should check the licens­ing terms.

Access the Rasp­berry Pi through the net­work shar­ing and cre­ate a new direc­to­ry in your home direc­to­ry called "Resilio".

Unzip the file that you just down­loaded from the Resilio web­site and move the rslsync file to the new­ly cre­at­ed direc­to­ry on the Rasp­berry Pi.

Go into the "Pic­tures" fold­er and cre­ate a new direc­to­ry "our­pho­tos".

Con­nect to your Rasp­berry Pi in Ter­mi­nal through ssh.

In Ter­mi­nal, enter

crontab -e

If you haven't used crontab -e before, you will be asked which edi­tor you would like to use. I rec­om­mend the nano edi­tor.

Add this line:

@reboot /home/pi/Resilio/rslsync --webui.listen 0.0.0.0:8888

Save with CTRL+O and exit with CTRL+X. Reboot your Rasp­berry with

sudo reboot now

Resilio Sync is now up and run­ning on your Rasp­berry Pi.

You can access the graph­i­cal inter­face by open­ing a brows­er win­dow on your com­put­er and typ­ing in

the-ip-address-of-your-raspbery-pi:8888/gui

For exam­ple:

192.168.1.2:8888/gui

Enter your user­name your pass­word. Press "Con­tin­ue".

Now enter the name how you want your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame to appear in Resilio, e.g., "dig­i­talpic­ture­frame". Check the two box­es.

Anoth­er win­dow will come up and ask you for user­name and pass­word, enter the same val­ues as you just did.

Tell Resilio Sync which fold­er you want to des­ig­nate for shar­ing by click­ing on "+" in the upper left cor­ner. Select a Stan­dard Fold­er and nav­i­gate to the fold­er with your pho­tos that you cre­at­ed ear­li­er. Start by select­ing "Home" and you will find your Pic­tures fold­er. Click "Open".

In the share win­dow, change the per­mis­sion to "Read & Write" and uncheck "New peers I invite must be approved by me".

Click "Email" if you want to send some­one the link to this fold­er, "Copy" to store the link in the clip­board.

If you want the link to be used sev­er­al times because you are send­ing it to a group of peo­ple, you have to increase the val­ue in "Link can be used .. time(s)".

On each com­put­er that you des­ig­nate for shar­ing your fold­er, Resilio Sync must be installed. This is also explained in the email that the recip­i­ent receives.

If you lat­er want to add peo­ple to your shared fold­er, repeat the pro­ce­dure.


If you don't want to install Resilio Sync on all shared com­put­ers, you can also use Drop­box by plac­ing your shared Resilio Sync fold­er in your Drop­box direc­to­ry. From there on, you can share your Drop­box fold­er.

Con­grat­u­la­tions! You have now made it very easy to add images to your dig­i­tal pho­to frame.