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Calling all computer geeks


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Specificall those with some hardware knowledge. I won't bore you with the why unless you care than I'd be happy to tell you. But I would like to get a laptop exactly like the one I currently have and swap a hard drive between the two of them. The end goal would be to have two of the "same" computers in different locations and just move the HDD back and forth. Assuming the BIOS and all the hardware is the same I can't see any problems. But I am more of a software guy not so much a hardware person. Anyone see any issues?

I'll be using a solid state drive so not much concern moving the drive around.

So far I have not found an exact match. Any thoughts on how different they could be and still give me zero problems? Would a slightly different processor or not exact DVD, blue tooth, modem difference give me fits?

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The easier thing would be to use an external drive and just move it back and forth.

Unless the two machince are almost identical, you will probably have issues. This goes for Windows based computers, and has to do with the Hardware Abstraction Layer. Tons of things are chosen based on different hardware. If running Linux, probabl not as much of a problem.

If you had two Macs, you could have an external drive plugged in the firewire port, and clone the built in drive, making it bootable. You could then plug it into the second Mac, and on booting, choose the external drive, and... there you have it, same drive and contents as the original.

Bruce

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Bruce, thanks for the quick reply. I should have stated in my OP that this is a Dell Latitude Win7 machine. I have found one that is almost identical except for the cache on the processor. Same MHz speed but mine has 6M cache and the other 3M T9400 process or and P8700 respectivly.

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Do you want to do this becuase of software licensing? So you don't need to spend the money for some high $$$ piece of work to have it on each machine or just so you don't have to haul both around?

The Latitudes are great laptops (most models). Solid and reliable. Delepnding on the model, I wouldn't want to be swapoing the drive all the time.

Bruce

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Windows 7 will detect the different hardware and ask you to re-activate each time you move between laptops. People get this in desktops when they replace a motherboard.

Some of the laptops aren't that 'easy' to get the HDD's out. Better off with the external thing...and/or, hate saying this, cloud type of storage/applications.... google docs.

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Not trying to get around any licensing issues. I develop software for a living. I also bike to work. My Dell Latitude is a great, rugged laptop - virtually a portable desktop. I am just trying to lighten my load and many days I work from home. If I know I will ride my bike in the next day I can leave my system at work, but that always seems to happen when something comes up and I need my laptop at home but it is spending the night at work. Does not save the planet much if I bike to work then drive back that same evening to get my junk so I can work at home.[:@]

I was hoping to simpley have the same machine in both locations and only move the drive back and forth (nice and light). The SSHDs weigh almost nothing. I have been told that the applications I use to develop software on do not work well on external drives. They do a lot of frequent, intensive read/writes and nothing external is fast enough. I have not tried it so don't konw for sure. I was looking at some light weight netbooks, but I am not convinced they will have enought power to develop on. Since my $2K+ laptop is all of 1.5 years old I can get a used one for about the same price as a new 12 inch screen ultra light netbook. I use multiple monitors for work so having a laptop with a 15 inch screen as one of the monitors is very nice.

In short I need desktop power with multiple monitors in two locations 25 miles away in a portable lightweight package; and have been told by others that an exteranl drive will not work. Any suggestions?

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while I commend your resourcefullness, unless you are going to get an exact duplicate - make, model, series - you'll constantly have issues. sell your laptop and buy a macbook pro - pretty light, very robust, and very powerful for the package size, even the 13" models. throw in 8GBs of memory and run vmware fusion, or bootcamp (dual booting) if you really need the windows environment for your work.

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There are currently three solutions for external drive speed that would be fast enough: Firewire, USB 3.00 (at 800mbps faster than SATA2), or eSATA, which is essentially on the internal buss.

Moving the boot drive won't work. Even though you are a single user, nobody "buys" an OS anymore. You rent it and it belongs to the computer. Hardware and CPU IDs are unitque even if the machine is identical.

This is what has brough PC development to a halt.

What about just leaving it at the office and remoting into it? If your internet access is half decent it should work fine.

Dave

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I live in the middle of nowhere my only Internet options are dial up, satellite (expensive and slow) and my current option of tethering my phone to my computer and using a spotty 3G phone connection. Fine for email/Internet but no way to remote in and do real work.

I don't believe I have a firewire port nor a USB 3.0 system. Even if I did it would require another computer (for home). I currently only have my Dell Latitude laptop. I am self employed consultant and don't have any sort of employer issued system. Trying to keep it reasonably priced. Buying a new system for home and work just to move an external drive back and forth does not seem like the right thing. A small, light $300 netbook does, but I'd still like a docking station, dual monitor, etc. And I have not seen one of those yet. The small 12 inch systems are light and great on battery power, but lacking for a true work set up. Guess that is the nature of them being light.

As for the Mac suggestion. I develop almost exclusivly windows applications. While I have a Macbook pro for iphone development, I don't see that as my daily driver for developing on a mostly WinTel technology stack.

Keep the ideas coming. What are some other out of the box suggestions?

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Buying a new system for home and work just to move an external drive back and forth does not seem like the right thing. A small, light $300 netbook does, but I'd still like a docking station, dual monitor, etc. And I have not seen one of those yet. The small 12 inch systems are light and great on battery power, but lacking for a true work set up.

If you're going to have a docking station, dual monitor, etc., why not just purchase a micro desktop system with its own keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc., and keep that in one of the locations? Configure both the laptop and the micro with identical applications, and keep all of your "working" files on an external hard drive that you can tote around with you.

As for the Mac suggestion. I develop almost exclusivly windows applications. While I have a Macbook pro for iphone development, I don't see that as my daily driver for developing on a mostly WinTel technology stack.

As someone who has developed for both Windows and Mac, I can say with almost certainty that using a Mac for Windows development will be nothing but trouble. (Frankly, while I have no love for Microsoft, I find using a Mac for anything to be nothing but trouble. I've never understood how anybody can get anything useful done on a Mac. But then, I look a lot more like the "I'm a PC" guy in the commercial than the "I'm a Mac" guy.)

Greg
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Greg, While that would seem to make sense I have been told by others that seem to know a bit more than me that the one application in particular that I use to develop software (MS Visual Studio along with Team Fondation Server) simply will not work well, or at all, on an external device. I have no real world experiance, but trust these people know what they are talking about. I gather that TFS working between your system and all the other developers colabrativly and keeping all versions of the applicaton in synch is the problem.

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If you install Visual Studio native on both of the computers, it should work just fine. Then just keep your development files and projects on the external drive, or better yet, in a revision control repository located completely separate from both computers, and you should be in good shape.

If you don't want to invest in two full copies of Visual Studio, there are "express" versions available for free from Microsoft. They do not have full functionality, but there may be enough there for your purposes -- you'll just have to look them over in detail to see.

Greg

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Ok, just going out on a limb here...have you considered virtualization, or are the hardware constraints here? If you have two laptops, you "could" move the OS drive between the two, but unless they are identical you may run into issues. I would drop a VMware image of what you want on the Native OS of the computer and your can just transfer the image between the two on whatever medium you want...just partition a segment of each hard drive to the virtual OS and use a single source for the image. Unless you have specific hardware requirements...like graphics intensive applications that require the use of native drivers, it is a much easier solution to the problem.

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While I understand the implications of not having good performance from an external drive, I'd sure try it out since your options are so limited (and external drive are CHEAP). I don't care what your other techs say, the only issue with an external drive would be performance.

In addition to that, really only your project files should reside on the drive that you want to transport. The programs should exist on each laptop while the only the projects get transported.

Another option would be to continue to use separate harddrives for your projects (in other words, leaving your machines drives alone) and just remember to update a USB stick with your files that you've changed that day (and actually, there's several free utilities will do this for you so you don't have to remember what you've worked on) and take that back and forth. This is, of course, dependent on the size of your files.

But really, those are both the *same* option, logistically.

HTH.

(disclaimer, I'm not really a PC tech... but I know a fair bit about PC's, not as much as the guy who mentioned the abstract hardware layer.. I barely remember those 7 layers from school).

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I would drop a VMware image of what you want on the Native OS of the computer and your can just transfer the image between the two on whatever medium you want...just partition a segment of each hard drive to the virtual OS and use a single source for the image. Unless you have specific hardware requirements...like graphics intensive applications that require the use of native drivers, it is a much easier solution to the problem.

To my knowledge, this is really the ultimate solution. However, the only people that I know who have been able to do this successfully were really hard-core computer types who completely understood what they were doing. I've never done it myself, but I've never tried, either.

Greg

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I *was* a computer tech before I got laid off and changed fields. I will say you do not need to be a genius to do it though. If you know how to install and operating system, you know enough to figure it out with little outside help. VMware is a double click install, lets you choose image location just like a browser and then basically you drop in your install disk and run from it. It is not rocket science, if you need help, I can probably advise. Do not be afraid of it haha...especially with windows...if you are dropping a windows 2008 server on a BSD or linux platform, it can be complex especially with routing of mail servers or domains ect...the use in this case is about the easiest one your can imagine. If you need advice, PM me, I am pretty busy this week. If you can install Windows 7 on a blank hard drive, you can have two virtual systems up an running in a couple hours (and free most likley)

ACE

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I like the VM idea, but honestly don't know much about it. I'd like to know more about how to make and use one or more VM images. Any help greatly appreciated. My current set up consists of the following:

-My fairly hard core laptop Dell E6500 with plenty of RAM and CPU power, it is about 1.5 years old. I have a few other computers at home but they are all ancient by computer standards so in reality I only have one computer. It is my bread and butter that I make a living out of. Driving to clients is not a problem I lug it around all well and good. On the bicycle is another story. At my main client I have dedicated space, a docking station that raises the laptop up to the same height as my 2nd monitor so basically a full keyboard, mouse, and two monitors one 15" and one 20". A pretty good work environment. I have a lot invested in the laptop, dock, and 2nd monitor. Don't want to go backward at that location.

-Two external HDDs a 250MB WD Passport (small and light) and a Maxtor larg-ish 500MB basically a desktop drive in an inclosure. Both drives are USB 2.0.

I started out figuring I'd set the big Dell aside and get a small 13 inch new laptop. I quickly found they either cost in the $1,500+ range or don't have much power. By the time I get a decent machine 2 docks (one for main client and one for home) along with other items I am way cheaper getting a used "clone" of my E6500 if I can make it work. Still not sure if Win7 will balk at essentially the same machine with a physically different CPU/MBoard...but I can see how it might. I like the laptop a lot and having the same set up in two places would be just fine with me.

As far as I can see each solution (VM, small laptop or identical E65000) all require another computer...no problem I am cool with that. Trying to figure out the best solution is more challenging. A second Dell Latitude E6500 is great if it would work. Small laptop is still not as light as just a drive and seems the most expensive. The VM I know the least about and sounds like the lightest to pack. What does VM ware cost for a personal user not an enterprise and how hard is it to use and configure?

Thanks, Rich

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it sounds like your best option at this point is something along the lines of these:

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/1324-Racks+Bicycle-Seatpost+Racks.aspx?s=1695&mfg=0&closeoutHotdeal=&use=&sort=Default&show=25&pricemin=0&pricemax=200

and one of these

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=padded+laptop+sleeve&x=0&y=0

and a pack of these

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200361069_200361069

this way you get to simplify your computing platform and continue using the system you're comfortable with, while offloading the weight of the computer to the bike's frame for better balance and function and back/shoulder relief. all for like $200 or less.

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