If you’re like me at all, you probably find that even with older/alternative laptops and desktops you may have lying around, one of them is essentially the “main” one. Most of these machines (even ones that are many years old) still have it in them to do good for you–whether it be for the little monitor space they provide or offloading some basic media or computations to them. While this is ideal, it’s not all that practical and it may be tempting to sell or scrap your old and stick with the new. Inappropriate.
Taking advantage of a few simple, tried-and-true tools that have been shown to work well across platforms can go a long way. I find these have helped me use all my PCs in a surprisingly integrated and headache-free way so I can focus on stuff I’d rather do:
- A quick way to backup and update files to any machine that allows you to SSH into it (and if you’re so inclined, an easy way to access your files remotely in the same spirit).
- If you’re an occasional or heavy terminal user and run computationally-intensive tasks on machines better-suited for the job than your current one, it might be nice to log out of your system and log back in at a future time to see things exactly as you left them (but with more work done of course).
- Finally, the most important tool allows one to share a mouse and keyboard across computers and across platforms over a local network, making it seem like each monitor is all part of one big desktop in which you can arrange your computers and share clipboard data with one another seamlessly–and a refreshing use of a sleezy-sounding corporate buzz word.
The picture above shows three quite different machines that have been with me for years. They now share the same keyboard and mouse and act as a big desktop when around each other, but still function just as well as independent units.