Distributed use of Org mode with Tramp

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I use several machines to do stuff (like OS X laptop at work, Linux and OpenBSD laptop at home, et cetara). All my org files are on a central server. I can use any of these systems to show my Emacs Org mode agenda with scheduled todo's and todo's with approaching deadlines, add journal entries and the lot.

When using Emacs Org mode with the power of Tramp, there is no need to sync files from one system to another.

Org mode

Org mode is terrific good at supporting your personal organisation

Org mode is a very flexible productivity tool that provides a lot of functionality in an extremely useful package.

You can use org mode for a lot of things:

  • Tasklist management
  • Scheduling of tasks
  • Managing deadlines
  • Logging your activities
  • Capturing thoughts
  • Capturing todos
  • Tracking time
  • Agenda's
  • Personal log
  • Diary
  • Journalling

Org mode provide a very easy way to link tags to your entries.


Org mode provides a brilliant system called "Capture".

This system let you add short snippets of text (or longer snippets, if you are in the mood for it) without you having to think about file locations, or adding timestamps or whatever.

You set up a number of templates, tell Org mode how to add entries in your org files, what kind of timestamps you want to saved with them, etc. and assign a key to each template.

Now you can capture stuff in an instant without much hassle. Just tell Emacs you want to capture something with a hotkey (default: Ctrl-C C). Then a menu with your templates is shown, together with the key you have assigned to each template. You just press the key of the template of your choice.

It sounds more complicated then it is, this is really a marvelous easy and fast method.

Org mode is a very brilliant piece of software that you should absolutely give a try

I started to use Emacs because of Org mode. My main motive for using Org mode was for easy journalling. Here you can read about my first steps with Emacs and Orgmode.

The powor of Tramp

Tramp is one of the other unique selling points of Emacs. Tramp is very good at using remote files in your local Emacs session.

In your org mode config you just have to point to the location of your org mode files, like this:


Tramp will do all the stuff for you.

You can have several remote org files connected to your org agenda, and in the background org will retrieve the information to compile your agenda, with the list of scheduled todo's, todo's with approaching deadlines and so on.

Also, the brilliant Org mode capture system will work very well with remote org mode files. Tramp will take care of every thing that is necessary.

Private Journaling with GnuPG Org mode and Tramp

Org mode capture is also great for journalling.

When you want to use a remote file for your journal, just tell org mode in your configuration file the location of the file.

When you start capture with Ctrl-C C and choose your Journal from there, Tramp will open your remote journal file Org mode let you enter your new entry. Just close the entry on the normal way with Ctrl-C Ctrl-C and tramp will make sure your remote file gets updated.

This all just works too, when you use a private journal file protected with GnuPG (a.k.a. OpenPGP).

*The remote host doesnot have to have your keyring. *

The local workstation needs your GnuPG key (private key) to unlock your remote journal file, and add your current entry to the file. When you close your capture with Ctrl-C Ctrl-C, Org mode will encrypt the file again and updates the remote version.

Open Source software is great!