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How to integrate Google Docs with your Ubuntu desktop

Google Docs is a great online office suite, and the fact that it allows collaboration has made it quite popular. Make it even better by integrating these services straight into your Ubuntu desktop…

This article originally appeared in issue 90 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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Google Docs has been around for a while, and although it has not proved to be a Microsoft Office killer, it has become quite popular as a way to share documents. Today we’re looking at how you can integrate your Ubuntu desktop with your Google Docs account to streamline usability.

We’ll look at three solutions that help you with this integration in different ways. First we’ll look at nautilus-gdoc, which integrates Nautilus with Google Docs and then we’ll look at OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs, which connects the OpenOffice application to Google Docs. Finally, we’ll look at GMDesk, which will bring Google Docs to your desktop.

A Google Docs account which usually omes bundled with Gmail (Google email)
nautilus-gdoc This plug-in enables Nautilus to integrate itself with your Google Docs account
python-gdata The Google Data Python client library is required to enable your applications to interact with Google’s apps using the Google Data API
ooo2gd This OpenOffice plug-in allows you to import/export documents from and to Google Docs
GMDesk This free desktop application enables you to run Google Docs in a window on your Ubuntu desktop
Adobe AIR This runtime is required to run GMDesk

1. Install prerequisites
Before we get started with the installation and usage of the scripts required to integrate Nautilus with Google Docs, we need to install a library that it depends on. This is the python-gdata, which is a tool written in Python that allows your Ubuntu desktop and its applications to interact with Google’s applications using the Google Data API. To install this, execute the following command:
[bash]# sudo apt-get install python-gdata[/bash]
Enter your password to complete the installation.

2. Get nautilus-gdoc
To integrate Nautilus with Google Docs we will use the ‘nautilus-gdoc’ script. This is an open source project hosted by Google Project Hosting. Head to the project’s webpage here and navigate to the download section. Download the latest release of the project. Save the zip file that you download somewhere on your desktop.

3. Copy the script
Once you have downloaded the zip file, double-click on it to have it opened by the archive manager. You will see two files in the package. You need to copy the file ‘Send To GDoc’ to the directory ‘/home/username/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts’. Since ‘.gnome2’ is a hidden directory, you might not be able to see it in the Nautilus file manager. Therefore, to copy the file using Nautilus, use the Ctrl+ L key combination and type ‘/home/username/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts’ in the location bar, replacing ‘username’ with your own username.

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