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I am having a weird issue, whereby if I want to save an email through print to PDF from Thunderbird to the Gnome managed google drive mounted drive it doesn´t work. It simply returns back to the print preview screen without any action being taken. Yet when I chose a regular folder within the home directory the file is immediately written and saved and the dialog upon finishing closes itself.

I could not find anything similar in nature when searching for the problem. And was wondering if anyone here could point me in a direction where I might be able to discover the error / problem and how to fix it.

Thunderbird: 102.8.0 (64 bit)
Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS
Gnome 42.5
Windowing system X11
6.1.11-76060111-generic

2 Answers 2

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The way GNOME gets access to your Google drive is through a library called gio, through a virtual file system layer called GVfs, which is basically a replacement for the "usual" direct file read/write/directory list… operations, and works on your local file system just as well as on some remote file systems, MTP USB cameras, …

Now, to make use of GVfs, you need to be actually be using gio to access files. There's also a bit of limited support for applications that don't, through Linux userland file systems (FUSE).

What I guess is happening is the following:

  1. GNOME offers access to your google drive through Gio for applications using Gio
  2. For applications not using Gio, it also offers limited-functionality linux userland filesystem access
  3. the print dialog in thunderbird belongs in the former category and sees your Google drive through the gnome file chooser dialog
  4. but the printing frontend, which is just told to write a PDF file to a specific location instead of sending it to a printing backend (CUPS, to actually print on a physical printer), doesn't know what the hell to do with a GVfs URL. It expects a normal file path.
  5. Because printing is pain and desktop integration for this newish, barely 4 decades old phenomenon is still in its infancy, errors from the printing system that are not happening in the backend are not presented to the user. Also, Thunderbird is sadly chronically understaffed and misprioritized.

Jay. So, honestly, just print to a local directory and manually copy the files over to your Google drive using your favorite file manager (which does support Gio).

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  • Thank you for taking the time to reply so thoroughly to my question. I had made a similar guess that it might be something related to the fact how google drive is integrated into the file system through Gnome as no actual files exist on the PCs internal disks except for maybe some cashing. I'm thinking about maybe using google-drive-ocamlfuse but am unsure if the way they handle this is by simply using a regular file system and syncing or if there implementation would result in similar problems.
    – N.Schipper
    Mar 9, 2023 at 13:46
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After delving deeper into it thanks to @Marcus his answer and finding a few guides I can now confirm that google-drive-ocamlfuse does work. Meaning I´d advice using that over the build in gnome integration.

I followed the following guide to install it: How to Install Google Drive on Ubuntu 22.04 so all credits go to Shara Hameed

Accessing Google Drive through google-drive-ocamlfuse “google-drive-ocamlfuse” is a tool that can be used to mount multiple Google Drive accounts on your system. You can then access these accounts just like any other directory. The changes you make to the directories associated with Google Drive accounts will be automatically synced to your account.

This entails the following steps:

  1. Add the Apt PPA through the terminal: sudo apt-add-repository ppa:alessandra-strada/ppa
  2. Run sudo apt update
  3. Installing google-drive-ocamlfuse by running sudo apt install google-drive-ocamlfuse
  4. Once the installation is finished run google-drive-ocamlfuse
  5. This will launch your default browser where you can log into google and confirm that you are okay with the requested permissions.
  6. Once you've completed these steps make sure to close the tab and wait for the terminal on which you started google-drive-ocamlfuse to complete with a message reading Access token retrieved correctly.
  7. Now you can create a folder or use an existing folder to mount Google Drive onto through the command: google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/<<your_google_drive_folder>>
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    Mar 11, 2023 at 10:23

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