Switching From Machine To machine - Hardware talk
Hello fellow nixers,
This thread is about how you handle your multiple machines.

Having multiple piece of hardware can be confusing. You probably have a main box with your main equipment that you spend most of your time on, the cherished ones.

That's probably the one box you backup frequently.

What about your other machines and accessories?
When do you use them?
Are they just servers laying around the house?
Your special rig for gaming?
An old hacking box with some sort of weird OS you play around with during the weekends?
A RP that's running daemons?


I have a spared laptop at home which I setup with Debian stable. I got excited about it when I finished my install however I just can't feel the same way about it as my main machine. It still feels like it's a secondary one that I barely use. There's no way in hell that I would scatter my files around. I tried it at first working on different machines but it got annoying when I had to transfer projects around.

The sane solution I had was to completely make the switch from one machine to another and stop using the oldest one.


The question is; Do you really have multiple main boxes, and if not what do you do with your spared machines and hardwares?
I have a custom built desktop I use to run Linux/BSD/whatever OS I have on the hard drive this week. I consider that my main machine, holds all my dotfiles, personal stuff, the whole 9 yards. I use it the most.

I also have a 2012 Macbook Pro that now runs OS X. I've always used that as my "set up and forget it" machine in that, I dont tinker with it much. I just want it to work. I usually use it to talk on skype and google documentation when my desktop is FUBAR.

I own a Dell Chromebook 11 that I bring on trips. I use that solely as an ssh client and for chrome. Nothing else really.

Those are my three machines I currently have in use. I have a plan 9 "cluster" that is sort of turning stale, I sadly haven't turned it on in awhile. I'd like to get back to it soon though. But again, I really just use those three machines. I also have an iPhone and a Nexus 7, but I use those in the same way as the Chromebook. SSH/contacting people really.

To keep it all together, i use a messy combo of Google Drive, git, and sometimes rsync. My whole setup is really wonky. I am doing some intense cleaning for college though. I'm getting rid of stuff I don't really need (extra peripherals, monitors, formatting drives, figuring out a use for currently working hardware) so hopefully my setup will make more sense in the future. I'm also considering using some old boxes I have in my closet as servers for a VPN i want to create. That would consist of my Macbook, desktop, and then those machines. I'd probably use that for backups and MPD, to stream my music library to all my devices.

Hopefully I can get that working soon.
That's a pretty nice thread here! Good idea.

I own 3 machines ATM. First there is my custom desktop, which is my main machine. That's where I spend all my time. I got 2 hard drives in there, one with crux on it for everything linux related (IRC, coding, web browsing, mails or whatever), and the second one running Ubuntu, for steam as I got tired of steam dirtying my crux install with 32 bit libraries (I don't use it for anything else really).

The second machine is an old desktop a friend gave to me that I use as a personnal server. It runs alpine and I only connect to it when I write new blog posts.

The last one is a notebook I take with me on trips, running elementary OS (I need to switch though, this shit runs terribly slow). I installed it before my holidays so my girlfriend and brother could use it to dump their pictures/videos without any help from me.
I don't use it much, so everytime I need it, I expect it to work.
Since switching over to OpenBSD as my main operating system, (most of my Linux machines have now been converted).

I presently have a desktop running OpenBSD (my daytime machine - 1GB ram / 64GB SSD) & a netbook running AntiX (my morning machine - 1GB ram / 2GB SD card), they get the most use.

(The netbook will likely stay Linux because it has a Broadcom wifi card.)

The morning machine is mainly used to check email whilst I drink my wake up cuppa; whilst the daytime machine does email, forums, music, movies; all the usual stuff.

(The others get the privilege of being practice/test machines.)
I have a laptop which is sort of my main machine, primarily because it is what I use the most because I take it to school. It runs Arch Linux. I also have a desktop which is kind of my gaming computer, which is running Windows 7 and dual-booting Arch Linux.

I use github for keeping my dotfiles in sync, and my desktop and laptop almost work identically. There are differences between desktops and laptops, however, which is why I have two branches -- one for my laptop and one for my desktop. I will then just cherry-pick commits which apply to both branches.

For syncing stuff that doesn't necessarily belong under version control, I use dropbox. All of my code(some of which is under version control, but you can sync that with dropbox), my university stuff, and all sorts of other crap is synced using dropbox. This makes the whole sync process feel mostly transparent. My favorite robot overlord, Google, also takes care of syncing bookmarks and history and such across sessions because I use Google Chrome.

The only downside of maintaining multiple machines is the occasional effort to keep track of the difference between the dotfiles from machine to machine as well as dropbox being somewhat slow to sync at times, and I feel that the linux implementation of Dropbox is rather prone to bugs(hangs, idle spin eating cpu and such).
* I have four machines at the moment. I have a Lenovo U410 running Arch . Its been sturdy and well maintained, its my main workhorse right now. I also have a Toshiba netbook as well as a Thinkpad X400 both running OpenBSD. I bought the Thnkpad because BSD support for the Lenovo U410 was giving me issues. I have an old desktop as well that I use for a basic web server also running OpenBSD.
I own three machines ATM. One Dell Vostro 1500 from 2007, which is in storage right now because I don't need it no more. It served me well for 8 years. It has Arch Linux on it. It was my main right for 8 years, the last 3 years serving under soem kind of *nix system or another, I programmed in it every day, watched porn on it every day (after discovering porn), I watched videos on it every day, and just generally was the only thing I used for nearly 8 years.

One Macbook Pro 13" Retina from Late 2013 which I've acquired recently, which is what I use at work all day and what I use for non-gaming stuff at home. What I'm using to write this right now from work. Of course it has OS X on it which makes it very comfortable for programming.

And last a Mac Mini late 2011 which I use for gaming every day, especially the weekends of course. Gives me a constant 120 FPS on CSGO with minimal settings so it's pretty good since my monitor only has 60hz.

The way I kept them all synced is with my original dotfiles setup (copyright me). The dotfiles are on GitLab and the way I have it setup I have a folder for each OS and I just have a .symlinks file inside each of those folders which tells a script what place to symlink stuff to. If two files are identical on two OSs then the original is in one place and the "copy" is just a symlink to the original.
Eduan / greduan
i recently got rid of a bunch of old machines. now i only have 3:

primary machine: laptop running arch (but i think im ready to move to crux) and a few other testing os's in a vm's.
programming, web-browsing, chat, i do almost everything on this machine. i back it up about once a month. i have a folder structure i try and adhere to so that backups are just a simple shell script that pushes stuff to my nas.

secondary machine: nas / htpc running arch. this is a mini-itx mobo with 6 500gb raid 10 hard drives and 6gb of ram in a small box sitting on my entertainment center. i use it as a file/backup server, and entertainment. it runs kodi (xbmc) for tv shows and movies and a bunch of emulators for retro gaming. it's also tied into my seedbox and automatically syncs files and tells me i got new stuff to watch when i login next time. whole thing is controlled via a boxee box remote (w/ the keyboard on the other side). i also have another boxee box in my bedroom that i stream video from the nas to. the only backup it has is raid 10.

tertiary machine: old laptop with the guts ripped out of the case and wall mounted. it's sequestered from the network (by physical means and mac address). i only use this thing for weird tests (read malware analysis) i dont want to do on my real boxes or on the network.

i also have many vps/seedbox servers in "the cloud".
I have a desktop and netbook. The desktop is my primary machine where I do all my work and gaming, the netbook is mostly for light browsing and programming on the move or in a more comfortable environment. It has more important projects and files than I'd like, but that's mostly just because it's a portable machine unlike the desktop so it gets used on trains and things. Projects aren't a massive issue though because I just use git to keep files synced.
I currently have two main machines (a desktop and a laptop) and I explicitly treat them as "main" machines. They hold the same data (synced using scripts around git and unison), they both run Arch and both run a virtually identical setup. It used to be three machines (slow and quiet laptop for most of the work, fast and loud desktop for gaming and a netbook for mobile stuff) and I built all those syncing tools during that time. I don't use any cloud services for syncing.

It's important to me that those machines can work independently from another. This is also some kind of "implicit backup": Since almost all (!) of my data is synced to the partner machine on a daily basis, very little data would be lost if one machine died. (I still do additional backups of both machines, though.)

Granted, I spend most of the time in front of my desktop computer, simply because it's more comfortable. That doesn't downgrade the laptop to a "secondary" machine, though. It's my "morning machine" (nice term :)), I keep it around when travelling or visiting someone. The point is, it's not a "burden" to use the laptop. It can do anything my desktop can do. No data is missing. This is an enormous luxury, in my opinion.

It took me a lot of time to get this setup up and running. I only started using bazaar in 2007, git in 2008 and unison in 2010. All the stuff that had been created prior to that had to be sorted out and moved around and merged and cleaned up... To some degree, this is still an ongoing process. But it's worth it. I doesn't feel like "scattering files around" anymore (it surely did at the beginning), quite the contrary: If stuff happens to be NOT covered by git or unison, it feels like that data is "lost" or "orphaned". :)

Edit: I didn't mention other devices like my Pi or the Pentium 133 because I feel they're out of scope. They serve very special purposes and are unique. There's no "main" or "secondary" here.

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