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Geek Throwdown: How to sync two or more Macs?

Enter the Octagon

Here’s an experimental new feature: The Throwdown. Take a problem that lots of people face and tell us your personal favorite way to deal with it — in as much detail and with as much persuasion as you can muster.

Today, a lot of us are living on two or more Macs -- which is great, except for the challenge of keeping the contents and settings of multiple machines effortlessly in sync.

Now before you pop in, holler "dot mac," and jump back on your Segway®, consider that many folks (including your author) are looking for a lot more than simple document syncing and perfunctory preference sharing. How about if your needs are more nuanced:

  • Can it intelligently sync "~/Library" stuff like "Preferences" and "Application Support" for your apps (so that Quicksilver, for example, is with you and tweaked to perfection wherever you go)? Is it smart enough to know which items not to sync?
  • Can it do smarter comparisons than "which one is newer?" -- consider that someone on 4 or 5 Macs may run into complex versioning problems that currently make .Mac very confused. For text, can it do diff3-style merging?
  • Will it update often enough (and automatically enough) that I can trust when I sit down at a new machine, I'll know everything's up to date without checking (or manual re-updating)?
  • Can backups be easily automated? And is it easy to restore across all machines?
  • Does it work for people on airplanes? If your solution requires a live internet connection for active usage (e.g. traditional WebDAV), what happens when that access is no longer available?

You get the idea. You have a system; now tell us about it. Bow to your sensei, then spare no detail.

How do you sync your Macs?

rsync? ChronoSync? Synchronize? Unison? Something you made yourself?

What are using to sync your Macs, and how are you using it?

aneviltrend's picture

Re: Automating Subversion?

People new to subversion (or who don't want to do much tinkering with the command line) can take advantage of this Finder plug-in to have full access to the commands from within the comfort of the Finder. I haven't personally tried it out, but I've heard good things about it. If you're really new, you'll probably want to read up on just what it is with this subversion book.

This makes it easy to use subversion from outside of the command line, but I don't know if it has some sort of Applescript interface (I'm pretty sure it doesn't) for automating updates or commits.

I find it useful to update and commit manually rather than at regular intervals (just helps to reduce conflicts if I'm editing the file on more than one machine), but I can't imagine it to be too hard to automate the process using a shell script.

If you have a repository checked out at ~/college101/, then you can use this small shell script to automate the update and commit from the server:

cd ~/college101/
svn update
svn commit -m "Scheduled update."

Save this script, and add it to your crontab, and you should be set. My word of caution is that if you check out the repository onto multiple machines, and tend to edit similar files, you may start running into conflicts on those files. Remember to commit and update regularly without the script as well.




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