geekdom without assumption

Digital assets for the ultra-mobile

It seems like I always have at least three computers that I am using at a any given time: a laptop (by far the most used since I travel,  have no desktop at home, and even move around the office a lot), a desktop (faster than the laptop for testing and/or staging), and a netbook. As you can imagine, my personal trove of digital possessions is of some magnitude–no less than 280gig with all of old stuff gziped. Naturally a good portion is music and photos. The problem is lugging around this mess of files between the various machines I’m actively using.

A few months ago, the issue of synchronicity (or lack there of) caused me to abandon the desktop altogether in favor of the slower laptop for all things. To be fair, the laptop has more memory and a faster processor, but the big bottle neck is the single, slow spinning disk. If I had a few grand to drop on a new SSD, I might be able to prune some of my files and get the speed, but the fact is that I don’t. Aside from that, I still have the issue of maintaining good backups, so I need to rsync that to a usb drive/network drive so that if the laptop is lost/destroyed, I’m still in good shape. I’m not worried about someone else getting the data, since it’s all LUKS encrypted, but I do want to make sure I still have it.

While walking home from work the other day, I lamenting the fact that only one disk slot in a laptop meant no RAID. It struck me that maybe there was another way. At one point, a machine I used had an eSATA port–although the one I have now doesn’t–and there’s always USB. But in either case, the drive would be disconnected part of the time: either when traveling light or in the absence of AC. Getting back to the apartment, a little Googling found a post on Ubuntu and hotswappable RAID. Someone already thought of this, and lo and behold, it’s been possible in Ubuntu since 9.04!

The instructions listed on the page even mention the LUKs encryption with LVM, so I’m off to the races to try it out. I bought a 7200rpm notebook drive with a 16MB cache for $75 to replace the 5400rpm  8MB one that my laptop shipped with, and am now in the process of moving files onto a temporary storage drive to clear my USB disk of the same size for being the hotplug drive. If I understand it right, I can lose either and boot the other immediately. I could have my laptop disappear, and–without skipping a beat–plug my mirror drive into one the many desktop machines at the office to be working again in minutes. My fingers are crossed.

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