Currently I do consulting which means that I travel a lot. I always need my work laptop with me for obvious reasons, but when I want to do some personal projects I won’t use a corporate laptop so I need to dual-wield. For the longest time I was bringing both my corporate and personal laptops but it had always felt like a pain. So I am now experimenting with using my iPad along with a magic keyboard to replace the need to bring my bulky 15” MBP. Had I gone with a MacBook Air I probably wouldn’t have this issue, but I want to see how things go here.

I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks of travel and I’ve got to say I am pretty impressed with what can be accomplished with just the iPad and keyboard. The key I am finding is to treat it like one of those ‘thin’ workstations where it is just remoting into a more powerful machine.

So far I am finding it quite pleasant ssh’ing into my home server and working in that session. I am using the Prompt app on the iPad and it works really well. Obviously the latency I am getting when typing will vary depending on my location’s WiFi, but because it is just text for the most part it is quite smooth.

The biggest hurdle I am finding right now is having the ability to tunnel my traffic through my home server so I can access the rest of my home lab. On my laptop I will typically use sshuttle which makes it super simple to forward your traffic over ssh and can take advantage of your targets dns. They call it the “poor man’s vpn”, though I think a more accurate statement is the “lazy man’s vpn” since sshuttle is so easy to use by comparison to setting up openvpn.

I think overall when I am not doing anything requires a more advanced IDE or tools using the iPad will be a good alternative to lugging my laptop around. It turns out that this combo is really good for writing (though I don’t think that is unexpected). It is really great for writing in my opinion because of the ergonomic benefits you get when you separate the monitor from the keyboard. Being able to put the keyboard and iPad in separate locations which are more comfortable makes it soo much more pleasant to write.

iPad Workstation

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