How to swap your laptop for a tablet+VPS for development work

Linked on Nov 3 at 2:09

Recently I’ve been debating between a Macbook Pro and a Macbook Air for developing on-site. They’re nice machines. I like the portability of the Air but want the power of the Pro. I also want a tablet device for its portability and to explore touch interactions. Ideally, I’d have all three for leisure use (iPad), remote work (Air or a netbook) and a beefier machine for more involved use. If only I could develop properly on a tablet.

Mark O’Connor is suggesting just that—to use a tablet for development. A command-line over SSH on a tablet with a keyboard makes a great dumb terminal.

Most of my work is in the shell anyway, so that’s not much of a stretch. All I need is a decent VPS (micro EC2 instances are just over $100 a year with cash advance). I can have that for a few dollars more than what I pay now for limited hosting. Throw in a keyboard, and you have yourself an expensive thin dumb terminal. Oh sure, it does other things!

An iPad as development machine? Could be worth a try. The only downsides I see so far: no wifi, no work; and requiring the keyboard to swipe to and refresh an app on UI work. That first problem can be solved by tethering to a phone. There must be a way around the second.