Kalle Strålman ☢️

A tech hobbyist's guide to the galaxy.

Mount your cloud storage with rclone

Created: 2023-01-07

Edit on Github

So I recently came across an awesome tool called rclone. rclone is a command-line tool with many features for managing cloud storage - even so that people refer to it as the swiss army knife of cloud storage.

This post will focus on how to configure remotes and how to mount them. I wrote this mostly as a future reference for myself but also to show a fraction of rclone's capabilities and why others might find it useful.

Configuring a rclone remote is straightforward - basically, just use rclone config and follow its interactive setup guide. Enabling it to mount automatically was a bit more involved but not too advanced.

Configure a rclone remote

Prerequisite: install rclone

My dropbox remote configuration prompts differed slightly from what was stated in the documentation which is mainly the reason why I felt like I had to include this section:

$ rclone config
No remotes found - make a new one
n) New remote
s) Set configuration password
q) Quit config

# 'n' for new remote

# What I chose to name my remote
Type of storage to configure.                          
Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value  
 9 / Dropbox    
   \ "dropbox"  

# Select '9' for Dropbox remote backend
** See help for dropbox backend at: https://rclone.org/dropbox/ **

Dropbox App Client Id
Leave blank normally.
Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").

# Here I entered blank
Dropbox App Client Secret
Leave blank normally.
Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").

# Here I entered blank
Edit advanced config? (y/n)
y) Yes
n) No

# 'n' for no
Remote config
Use auto config?
 * Say Y if not sure
 * Say N if you are working on a remote or headless machine
y) Yes
n) No

# 'y' for auto config
# And then I had to authenticate using a dropbox token - and that was it!

Now I was able to list my dropbox directions using rclone lsd dropbox-remote:

Mount a remote at every boot

Prerequisite: install rclone & configure a remote e.g. dropbox

One alternative to mounting a remote automatically is by using a templated user systemd service, found here. The last edit date on this wiki page is October 6 2022 at the time of writing make sure you are using the latest version.

  1. Create a service file
  • Save the following content to this file: /etc/systemd/user/rclone@.service
Description=RClone mount of users remote %i using filesystem permissions

#Set up environment

#Default arguments for rclone mount. Can be overridden in the environment file
#TODO: figure out default for the following parameter
#TODO: figure out default for the following parameter

#Overwrite default environment settings with settings from the file if present

#Check that rclone is installed
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -x /usr/bin/rclone

#Check the mount directory
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -d "${MOUNT_DIR}"
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -w "${MOUNT_DIR}"
#TODO: Add test for MOUNT_DIR being empty -> ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -z "$(ls -A "${MOUNT_DIR}")"

#Check the rclone configuration file
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -f "${RCLONE_CONF}"
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/test -r "${RCLONE_CONF}"
#TODO: add test that the remote is configured for the rclone configuration

#Mount rclone fs
ExecStart=/usr/bin/rclone mount \
            --config="${RCLONE_CONF}" \
#See additional items for access control below for information about the following 2 flags
#            --allow-other \
#            --default-permissions \
            --rc="${RCLONE_RC_ON}" \
            --cache-tmp-upload-path="${RCLONE_TEMP_DIR}/upload" \
            --cache-chunk-path="${RCLONE_TEMP_DIR}/chunks" \
            --cache-workers=8 \
            --cache-writes \
            --cache-dir="${RCLONE_TEMP_DIR}/vfs" \
            --cache-db-path="${RCLONE_TEMP_DIR}/db" \
            --no-modtime \
            --drive-use-trash \
            --stats=0 \
            --checkers=16 \
            --bwlimit=40M \
            --cache-info-age=60m \
            --attr-timeout="${RCLONE_MOUNT_ATTR_TIMEOUT}" \
#TODO: Include this once a proper default value is determined
#           --daemon-timeout="${RCLONE_MOUNT_DAEMON_TIMEOUT}" \
            --dir-cache-time="${RCLONE_MOUNT_DIR_CACHE_TIME}" \
            --dir-perms="${RCLONE_MOUNT_DIR_PERMS}" \
            --file-perms="${RCLONE_MOUNT_FILE_PERMS}" \
            --gid="${RCLONE_MOUNT_GID}" \
            --max-read-ahead="${RCLONE_MOUNT_MAX_READ_AHEAD}" \
            --poll-interval="${RCLONE_MOUNT_POLL_INTERVAL}" \
            --uid="${RCLONE_MOUNT_UID}" \
            --umask="${RCLONE_MOUNT_UMASK}" \
            --vfs-cache-max-age="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_CACHE_MAX_AGE}" \
            --vfs-cache-max-size="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_CACHE_MAX_SIZE}" \
            --vfs-cache-mode="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_CACHE_MODE}" \
            --vfs-cache-poll-interval="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_CACHE_POLL_INTERVAL}" \
            --vfs-read-chunk-size="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_READ_CHUNK_SIZE}" \
            --vfs-read-chunk-size-limit="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_READ_CHUNK_SIZE_LIMIT}" \
#TODO: Include this once a proper default value is determined
#            --volname="${RCLONE_MOUNT_VOLNAME}"
            "${REMOTE_NAME}:${REMOTE_PATH}" "${MOUNT_DIR}"

#Execute Post Mount Script if specified
ExecStartPost=/bin/sh -c "${POST_MOUNT_SCRIPT}"

#Unmount rclone fs
ExecStop=/bin/fusermount -u "${MOUNT_DIR}"

#Restart info


  1. Tell systemd to look for new files. systemctl --user daemon-reload

  2. (Optional step) configure a custom mount point. The default mount directory is ~/<REMOTE NAME> if you are ok with that skip this step.

  • Create an env file: touch ~/.config/rclone/<REMOTE NAME>.env. For me this file is ~/.config/rclone/dropbox-remote.env
  • Set the env variable MOUNT_DIR to whatever mounting directory you want. This directory must exist in the filesystem. For example I want dropbox-remote to moount in /mnt so I set MOUNT_DIR=/mnt/dropbox-remote. Then create that folder e.g. sudo mkdir /mnt/dropbox-remote && sudo chown $USER /mnt/dropbox-remote
  1. Start the templated systemd user service for a specific remote.

systemctl --user enable rclone@<REMOTE NAME> systemctl --user start rclone@<REMOTE NAME>

e.g. for my dropbox this was: systemctl --user enable rclone@dropbox-remote systemctl --user start rclone@dropbox-remote

Now your remote should mount for every reboot.

Checking out VFS cache modes

Edit: Jan 8, 2022

The default VFS cache mode Environment=RCLONE_MOUNT_VFS_CACHE_MODE="off" or --vfs-cache-mode off which it evaluates to prevent my password manager from opening my database file from the remote mount directory for both read and write. I get the following error log from doing this: WriteFileHandle: Can't open for write without O_TRUNC.

Changing the cache mode from --vfs-cache-mode off to --vfs-cache-mode writes should support all normal file operations (Source here).

  1. Restart service: systemctl --user restart rclone@<REMOTE NAME>
  2. Check that it was restarted correctly with correct cache mode: systemctl --user status rclone@<REMOTE NAME>