If you’ve adopted Ubuntu 18.04 or Bionic Beaver, you’ll be glad to know thanks to GNOME, it’s incredibly simple to connect the Ubuntu desktop operating system to your Google Cloud account. Once connected you can use this online account for the likes of:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Documents
  • Photos
  • Files
  • Printers

That list, of course, comes directly from the settings. The reality is much different. You can immediately strike Photos (as it does nothing). And unless you’re willing to install and use the Evolution groupware suite, you can also strike Contacts and Mail. And Files is quite quirky, but it works. However, if you want a really easy means of accessing those files on Google Drive through Linux, this makes perfect sense. And if you’re okay with installing Evolution, you’ll have immediate access to Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks, without having to also configure the application.

Let’s take the plunge and add your Google cloud account to Ubuntu 18.04 and then install Evolution, so to make the most out of that online account.

Connecting Google to Ubuntu

To make this connection, there is nothing to install. What you do have to do is connect Ubuntu to your Google account. To do this, open up Settings and click Online Accounts. From the menu of possible accounts (Figure A), click Google.

Figure A

Once you’ve clicked Google, you’ll be prompted to log into your Google account (Figure B).

Figure B

Walk through the sign-in process for your Google account. When that completes, you’ll be greeted with the options available (Figure C). At this point, you might as well disable Photos.

Figure C

Close that window and then close the Settings window. You’re ready to start working with your Google cloud account.

Installing Evolution

Before I walk you through installing Evolution, you do already have access to your Google Calendar. If you click on the Day/Time entry in the top bar, the Calendar popup will appear, already displaying your Gmail Calendar events (Figure D).

Figure D

However, to really get the most out of this, I highly recommend you install the Evolution groupware suite. To do this, open up Ubuntu Software, search for Evolution, and click to install (Figure E).

Figure E

Once the Evolution installation completes, open it up and you’ll see that your Gmail account is already added. Depending on how much data you have in your Google account, it could take awhile for it to sync. You can check your Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, and Memos.

Google Drive

This is where things get a bit quirky. If you open up the Nautilus file manager, you’ll notice an entry for your Google account. Click on that entry and you won’t see any files or folders right away. Give that some time and it will finally sync with your Google account (again, depending upon how much data you have stored on your Google drive account, this could take some time). Once in sync, you can open those files directly from within the file manager. So long as you don’t unmount that Google drive, logout, or reboot the machine, using your connected Google Drive files works almost as well as if they were local. Add new files or edit existing files and they’ll be in sync with your Google Drive account.

There is one caveat. If you have a very large amount of data in your Drive account, using Nautilus in this fashion can take some time. I currently have over 70GB and Nautilus takes forever to mount the drive. If you’re looking at a much smaller collection of files and folders, using this feature will actually work quite well.

Make the most out of it

Connecting your Google account to Ubuntu 18.04 isn’t a perfection solution at the moment, but it does offer some benefits you won’t find in Ubuntu without the connection. Give this setup a try and see if you don’t find the pros don’t outweigh the cons.