If you’re here for just the KDE-specific stuff, feel free to skip this post.
I used to have a desktop and a laptop. But in the end I found that having only a single machine greatly simplified everything and increased my productivity. This is it:
The biggest problem was always keeping files in sync.
Assuming you’re more than just a consumer of online content, you probably have local files for things that are important to you: school work; in-progress projects; creative pursuits; family photos; a personal music collection; source code repos; saved memes–you name it. With more than one computer, you need to figure out a way to keep these files in sync, and good solutions are elusive.
Cloud services are expensive and may compromise your privacy. Free non-cloud local sync services only work when both machines are on the same network. Any FOSS versions of these are unfortunately buggy and a chore to set up and maintain. Even if your chosen sync solution works perfectly (which it never does), you have to deal with the headaches of:
- Inevitable sync conflicts
- The set of files on one computer exceeding the storage capacity of another one
- A necessary delay before you can work on files which the sync service is still updating after you turn on a computer that was turned off while changes were made on another computer
- Resisting the temptation to pause syncing when something goes wrong, because you will forget to turn it back on, causing each computer’s files to drift out of sync and making reconciliation that much harder later
If you opt to forgo sync services and instead store common or shared files on a server (say, music or movies), this worsens the problem because now you have an additional location of files to manage, and you acquire the challenge of how to either safely access the files when not on the server’s local network, or automatically keep cached local copies in sync.
Giving up and keeping differing sets of files on each computers defeats one of the advantages of having multiple computers, and makes file management a real nightmare because you will somehow never have the file you want on the computer you happen to be using at any given time.
There’s just no good way out here, at least not that I’ve found.
In the end I settled on using a single computer–a powerful, top-of-the-line laptop. This can do everything a desktop can do–albeit more slowly–but it has the portability I need for travel and working from multiple locations. Interestingly, one really nice laptop that doesn’t need an external screen, mouse, or speakers turns out to be generally cheaper than two decent computers with all their associated peripherals. The only problem is finding one, because the range of high-end PC laptops kind of stinks, unfortunately. More on that tomorrow.