NixNote: Syncing Notes Via Dropbox

Scale LogoI’m going to be speaking at So Cal Linux Expo (SCaLE) 15 and I thought it might be disingenuous to be presenting from a Windows laptop. So I took a personal laptop that’s become a secondary device and put the latest version of Mint on it to use as a presenting machine.

A couple of years back, I ran a machine on Linux exclusively to see if it was possible to use as a daily driver. Even took it to a couple of hackathons. It worked pretty well. A few rough edges, but nothing I couldn’t live with. At the time, I used Evernote at work (company sponsored account) and found NixNote to be a reasonable Linux options for accessing my Evernote notebooks.

Eventually I upgraded hardware and changed jobs, didn’t feel a need to get rid of Windows and lost the corporate Evernote account. Linux faded out of my daily life and I went back to OneNote, which I prefer for many things. I had a brief flirtation with Mac, and OneNote is severely messed up on that, so I used Outline.

If you’re ever looking for a OneNote replacement for Mac or have Windows and Mac machines, but want to work with the same OneNote notebook on both, try Outline.

There’s no good OneNote replacement for Linux on par with Outline for Mac, so I went back to NixNote. But without the corporate sponsored Evernote account and with the restrictions Evernote recently placed on the free accounts, I wasn’t going to pay for Evernote, but needed my notes available off-machine.

NixNote Screenshot

I looked for a post like this one I’m writing on how to sync up copies of NixNote via Dropbox or another cloud storage service. Couldn’t find one. So I thought “wonder if I can move the NixNote local database to my DropBox, then symlink its old location to the new location.” I tried it and it worked. So here are the instructions.

STEP 1: INSTALL DROPBOX

Install Dropbox or any other client that will automatically sync some folders with a cloud service. Open a file manager window to your synced folder.

STEP 2: LOCATE YOUR NIXNOTE DATABASE

(Am I the only one who read “NixNote database” and then had to add “give the dog a bone — this old man went rolling home”?)

On Mint or Ubuntu, use your file manager to navigate to the NixNote data folder it’ll be in /home/[your account]/.nixnote.

In my case, the folder with my database was named db-1.

STEP 3: MOVE YOUR DATABASE

You should have NixNote closed at this time. Drag the db-1 folder to wherever you want to store it in your synced Dropbox folders.

STEP 4: CREATE A SYMLINK

The last step was to create a symlink between the old directory location and the new one. Open a terminal and…

sudo ln -s /home/[your account]/Dropbox/db-1 /home/[your account]/.nixnote/db-1

If you’ve put the db-1 directory deeper in your Dropbox folder hierarchy, adjust the first path accordingly.

And that’s it. If you’re trying to sync across Linux machines, just follow steps 1 and 2, delete the local database instead of moving it on subsequent machines, and then create the symlink. The installations of NixNote will now share a database.

BUT WHAT IF I WANT TO SHARE MY NIXNOTE DATABASE ON WINDOWS

It’s actually pretty much the same thing. Download NixNote for Windows. There’s no installer, just a .zip file with all the components.

Unpack that .zip file to the directory where NixNote will live on your system. Run nixnote.exe once just to get all the scaffolding done. Your NixNote db-1 directory will be in C:\users\[your account]\.nixnote.

Close NixNote. Delete the db-1 directory. Open a command prompt in Administrator mode (Windows + X, select "Command Prompt (Admin)"). Let's assume that the db-1 folder is at the top level of your Dropbox folder. You'd type this command:

mklink /D \users\[your account]\.nixnote\db-1 \users\[your account]\Dropbox\db-1\

That creates a directory symlink from db-1 If there's a space in your account name or the name of any of the directories, put the path(s) with the space(s) inside double quotes.

Boot NixNote again and it will be showing the notes you created on your Linux system.

NixNote on Windows

Obviously, you don't have to use Dropbox. Any cloud storage service with an auto-syncing app will do.

Hope you found this helpful. If you did, give me a shout out on Twitter (I'm @YiddishNinja), or leave a comment below to say thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*