Every time I go on a trip I plan to spend half a day “setting up my laptop”. Mostly this means copying files back and forth until it somewhat resembles my main machine, and hoping I haven’t forgotten anything (say, for instance, the time I went to the RH Summit and forgot to bring the VPN key. Sigh).
I’m much too lazy to set up rsync for my desktop configuration for this purpose, and anyway I suspect that I’d spend as much time tweaking any rsync script as I do just copying things around. Instead I’ve spent my time more usefully, thinking about how this could be automated for KDE or Gnome.
What I’m thinking about in particular is a new role for kde.org or gnome.org: give everybody who uses the desktop a little space on the web site, and automatically encrypt and upload certain bits of data; then automatically download and synchronize it when the user logs in and has a network connection.
Initially this could just be a few things relating to my identity: the contents of my keyring (including passwords for web sites), information about my various mail accounts, my gaim accounts, newsgroups I use and information about what articles I’ve read, my blog list in RSSOwl, my calendar, my sticky notes, my
.cvspass file, probably even my mozilla bookmarks.
I think that is actually pretty minimal and that over time we’d find more things to add — just go through the list of programs you use daily and it is pretty easy to see bits of configuration that relate to your identity, as opposed to machine- or session-local ephemera. But initially just starting with one or two of these to work out the concept would be fine.
The synchronization phase is the only tricky point. I’m often using both my machines at once, and if I make an account on some website using my main machine, and make another account around the same time using my laptop, I think it is reasonable to expect that the results will be merged — that I won’t lose one or the other.
This means that simply copying config files around in a naive manner is probably not workable. I don’t think there are any big problems solving this; in most cases I care about, it boils down to computing the union of two lists.
In the unusual case where the two configurations refer to one account with different passwords, I suppose we could defer to the user at synchronization time. I doubt this happens often.
In the bigger view I think this is just the first step toward integrating the desktops with their respective web sites. There are plenty more ways this could be done.