Sync Your Life

For those of us lucky enough to use Linux on all of our computers, Canonical's Ubuntu One is a great way to keep files in sync between computers. Unfortunately, most of us are stuck using other operating systems throughout the day. We all have our own ways of managing such things, but I thought a glimpse into my “world of sync” might help others synchronize their lives.


At home, I have a centralized file server, and at work, I have the same thing. But, sometimes I want to access documents regardless of my location—like from a coffee shop during lunch. For my word processing and spreadsheet files, along with a handful of other commonly used documents (Linux Journal digital PDFs come to mind), I use Dropbox. It is a cross-platform, free program that allows you to sync many computers in real time. The free version is limited to a gig or two, but for basic documents, it's perfect (


I use Firefox on every operating system, but even if you are forced to use Internet Explorer, Safari or Google's Chrome browser, Xmarks syncs your bookmarks quite nicely between different browsers on different platforms. The service is free and works very well. I can't imagine life without Xmarks (

Contacts and Calendars

Love it or hate it, Google has infiltrated every operating system rather effectively. I use a plethora of applications to keep my different devices (laptops, desktops, phones, PDAs) in sync with contacts and calendars, but they all are based on Google. My favorite feature is that in a pinch, I can access everything from a Web browser. A quick search for “google sync” brings up many options, most free, that should get you a consistent contact and calendar base across any platform.


This is starting to feel like a Google ad, so I'll stop with this one. Google Voice is the way I consolidate all my phone numbers. I like having a single number that I can give freely and then filter incoming calls however I want. Again a free solution, Google Voice offers features I'd likely pay for, although I'm certainly not complaining at the price.

So, there you have it. I currently have two cell phones, a Skype Wi-Fi phone, Magic Jack, home landline, work landline, three Linux laptops, one Windows laptop, one Apple laptop, three desktops at home, three desktops at work and enough media-playing devices in my house to open a movie theater. If I didn't sync some of my services, I'd go more insane than I already am!


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Google - LDAP

Kyle Winfree's picture

I use Google Contacts on my mobile device right now, and really have grown to love it. But rather than using Google, why not run an LDAP server at home?

Internet Storage

Bob-El's picture

While I'm intrigued by the concept of DropBox, people using it should be aware that however good is the site's security, they should use it warily. It certainly isn't a good idea, in my mind, to use it to store personal documents or anything you would not like to have made available to strangers. On the other hand, I use Xmarks and have been using it since it was called Foxmarks. But I don't use it to store passwords. People tend to forget that the internet is a open doorway to the world.

how does Thunderbird + Lightning fit in?

Saint DanBert's picture

It seems that Thunderbird + Lightning (Mozilla) are the step children of this exercise. Not only is sync problematic, but sharing attempts lead to madness. Heaven forbid that something (including the nut in the ops chair) damage the profile, recovery is also problematic. I regret that when it work, it does all that I want and more in ways that make sense to my brain and the brains of those I love dearly.

~~~ 8d;-Dan


Anonymous's picture

far superior. xmarks is sketch by auto enabling "new features" that are not only annoying, they jeopardize privacy.

Why don't you use mozilla

Anonymous's picture

Why don't you use mozilla weave for firefox syncing. It syncs more than just the bookmarks.