5-Minute WebDAV Server for Dropbox and iPad Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

This quick guide will get you set up with a secured simple WebDAV server using Ruby and Rack. The idea is to make your Dropbox accessible through WebDAV. This enables secure saving of documents from the iPad iWork apps back into your Dropbox account.

The script was inspired by Billy He’s RackDAV Thin script and improved to add self-signed certificates for an encrypted connection.


This guide was written with Mac OS X in mind, but with a few changes should work on any *nix-like system. Ruby and RubyGems are assumed to be already installed.

sudo gem install rack rack_dav

Create self-signed certificates

cd ~/Dropbox
mkdir .certs
cd .certs/
openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024
openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr
openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt

Remove the unnecessary PEM password unless you’re really paranoid:

cp server.key server.key.org
openssl rsa -in server.key.org -out server.key

Verbose Info: http://efreedom.com/Question/3-73979/Easily-Create-SSL-Certificate-Configure-Apache2-Mac-OS

The RackDAV script

Here’s the RackDAV script which you could save as rackdav.rb in your Dropbox folder. Replace all instances of USERNAME and PASSWORD as needed.

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require 'rubygems'
require 'rack'
require 'rack_dav'
require 'webrick'
require 'webrick/https'
require 'openssl'

pkey = OpenSSL::PKey::RSA.new(File.open("/Users/USERNAME/Dropbox/.certs/server.key").read)
cert = OpenSSL::X509::Certificate.new(File.open("/Users/USERNAME/Dropbox/.certs/server.crt").read)

app = Rack::Builder.new do
  use Rack::ShowExceptions
  use Rack::CommonLogger
  use Rack::Reloader
  use Rack::Lint

  use Rack::Auth::Basic do |username, password|
    [username, password] === ['USERNAME', 'PASSWORD']

  run RackDAV::Handler.new(:root => '/Users/USERNAME/Dropbox')

Rack::Handler::WEBrick.run(app, :Port => 1024, :SSLEnable => true, :SSLVerifyClient => OpenSSL::SSL::VERIFY_NONE, :SSLCertificate => cert, :SSLPrivateKey => pkey, :SSLCertName => [["CN",WEBrick::Utils::getservername]])

Source: This script was inspired by the one found at http://surrealtime.tumblr.com/dropbox_webdav.

Make sure it works and runs:

chmod +x rackdav.rb
sudo ./rackdav.rb

Tip: To terminate the webrick server, try ctrl+alt+c.

Starting on system boot using launchd

Edit and save this plist file in /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.YOURNAME.RackDAV.plist and don’t foreget to change ALL CAP items like USERNAME.

< ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
< !DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
		<true />
		<true />

You can load and unload this daemon without restarting using the following commands:

sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.YOURNAME.RackDAV.plist
sudo launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.YOURNAME.RackDAV.plist
8 comments… add one
  • roger May 19, 2016 Link Reply

    Hi, is there a way to do it on windows?

  • Rick Oct 7, 2011 Link Reply

    Hello John,
    I am very interested by your script due to Dropdav change as Ray said.
    But, I have a basic question : how do I connect from iPad?
    // Rick

  • Ray May 26, 2011 Link Reply

    Well, DropDAV is no longer free. They start charging $5 a month. That sucks given the 2GB Dropbox account is FREE! I am not going to pay just to sync.

  • Niall Mar 3, 2011 Link Reply

    Well my DropDAV has stopped working. Can login to Dropbox ok and can log into DropDAV manage account page but dropdav from Pages in the iPad does not work.

  • Lachlan Jan 14, 2011 Link Reply

    DropDAV actually is free. They just explained the pricing a bit confusingly on their website. If your Dropbox is a 2GB free account, then you can use DropDAV for free, but if you pay for your Dropbox, you pay for DropDAV (or get a free 14-day trial). It works painlessly, efficiently and beautifully.

  • Jon Stacey Dec 5, 2010 Link Reply

    I have just made the following change to this guide: run server as non-privileged user. The script now starts the server on port 1024 rather than 80 so that it doesn’t need to be run as root. The launchd plist file now specifies the user that the server should be started as. Files created should then have the ownership of the user rather than root.

    Some have asked privately why WEBrick was used rather than mongel. The answer is Mongrel does not have the capability of secured connections without the use of a proxy as far as I can tell.

  • Jon Stacey Dec 3, 2010 Link Reply

    Unfortunately it does not appear that DropDAV is free after 14 days.

  • Zane Dec 2, 2010 Link Reply

    Now there’s a service that enables WebDAV support for Dropbox. It’s called DropDAV and it works really, really well. Check it out at https://dropdav.com

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