Friday, November 20, 2009

The Path To Laptop Indifference

I'm really loving my new laptop, and I'm pleased with the relative ease in which I've been able to switch to it. Thanks to packages like Xampp, what used to be days of configuration to get a development environment up and running, can now take a few minutes.

This experience has got me thinking more and more, that I one of my real goals as a business should be laptop indifference. That is, I shouldn't be anchored to one or more pieces of hardware.

This is an admirable goal, as it serves as both catastrophe planning (think: laptop gets stolen, dropped, etc.) as well as increases my mobility options (think: can fix issues from an internet cafe, or over a cell phone). But getting there isn't easy. Here's the current approach I'm using to attain this - so techniques here on tried and true, others are new for me.

Got any suggestions for achieving complete hardware indifference? I'd love to hear them!

TaskHardware SpecificLaptop Indifferent ToolProsCons
Document creationMicrosoft OfficeGoogle Docs Collaboration ability; Access from anywhere - including mobile Functionality is still basic
NotesText files and hand written notesPersonal Wiki Access from anywhere; Version control; Well organized Loss of convenience
Project files (including source code) Local subversion repository Remote Subversion Allows for development on multiple machines Requires a remote server of some kind
General programs and tools Installed locally Installed locally, and software a master list maintained List helps to speed up install process by allowing for setup up front, rather than as each tool is needed Crude solution and one that needs to be improved upon
Browser Bookmarks bookmarks local to browser Use Xmarks to remotely synchronize bookmarks Convenience of local bookmarks, with remote sync ability None?

So far, I've found that by sticking to the above tools, I'm actually able to jump fairly easily between my older and new laptops.

So what tools and practices should I add to the above list?


  1. You might image your machines to make it easy to switch between the same make and model.

    You might set up your development environment inside of a virtual (VMWare or VirtualPC) so that your hardware doesn't matter; you can run it wherever you please.

  2. grant: I like your idea of using a 'virtual' developer machine... I'll have to give that a try, and the latest VirtualBox is great plus free.

    ben: Xmarks is great, especially now that they have a chrome beta... now I have my firefox/safari/chrome/ie bookmarks all in sync.

  3. Grant -

    I suppose imaging is the ultimate virtual PC solution. I'll have to think about the best way to work that into my strategy. Thanks!


  4. You provide so nice detail information on whole laptop functionality I really need this kind of useful information you describe very nice and very important detail regarding laptop.