When working from home on my linux machine - I have all my org files on Dropbox. I store all agenda files, todos, references and stuff like that in those. Basically my whole life is in those org files. If I am away from a computer during the day I have an idea or I want to check my agenda - I can easily do so through an app called "orgzly". All is well for now.

Now imagine if I wanted to take notes while I am at work on a windows machine(I am an IT technician in a large factory. Also doing some development work, writing documentation for it, etc. A good code editor is a must)... I would of course also try to use emacs with org mode(writing in a word document and not having my shortcuts for text editing, hunting and pecking with mouse simply kills me). I would also try to make agendas and schedule tasks, keep track of projects and use everything that emacs and org mode has to offer.

Here are some problems that I face:

  • my work machine is a windows machine. It means that magit is slow as hell, I can not work with it being so slow..
  • I still want to keep my config similar on both personal and work machines, so I have to make my .emacs config usable on both windows and linux. I found a way to do that that already, it works fine.
  • installing dropbox on my work machine and then syncing all my life files(journals, ideas, birthdays, errands, etc) to work machine does not sound like a good idea. I don't want someone to be able to see my personal files just in case someone takes my laptop or I leave this workplace without cleaning my computer first.
  • it means that I have to separate my org files into personal/work. Have work files ONLY at work and personal ONLY at home. But that frustrates me again, because now I can not see the big picture when I am at work looking at my week. I would much rather prefer to filter work/personal tasks in agenda itself by creatig separate org-agenda-custom-commands, letter w for work agenda, letter p for personal.

What I tried:

  • I have tried to run a VM on my work computer that is protected with a password and then have my dropbox with all my personal/work org files inside this VM and also run emacs directly there.
  • run emacs on WSL which is installed on my work machine, but then I am running emacs in terminal, which does not give me full funcitonality, some bindings are messed up and similar problems.. (now I am aware you can insall graphical emacs on wsl, but dont think that would solve my issue of using org files at work)
  • I have also tried creating two github repositories. one containing personal org files and another containing work org files. But then everyday I have to remember to push and pull.. (I guess I can create a cron job that syncs for me every 5mins or so).
  • I was also thinking to encrypt the org folder, so only I could open it. That way I can keep dropbox on my work computer.
  • I was also trying to do "sparse checkout" in git, which helps me to git clone only one folder from my org repo..
  • I was also thinking perhaps screw it all and simply run my dropbox on work computer without being afraid that someone will get hold of my computer and see my personal files... but that is the last resort.
  • Most recently I have tried to launch a virtual VM in digitial ocean. Cheapest, for 4$ a month(1vcpu-512mb-10gb) and run ubuntu there, have headless dropbox and emacs inside of it, ssh into it at work from a windows machine over mobaxterm(I am asked for password, so only I can access it), to have emacs with a GUI. It works quite well. Today will be my second day using this setup. What I think now.. I could perhaps install emacs directly at my windows work computer and then use tramp to connect to this virtual VM where all my org files reside.
  • Or finally I should quit this IT technician job and get myself a programmer role where linux is encouraged, might make some things easier. (it's coming, but not for now).

Yeah, I am confused and lost a little. I keep thinking what is the best way to make it work.

I finally want to get done with it and continue building stuff rather than trying to configure my emacs environment(even thought I learn a lot while doing so. Not only about emacs, but about VM's, ssh, wsl and stuff) :)

Curious to know how others have set up this or perhaps you have some suggestions for my situation.

  • 3
    Welcome to StackExchange! You write "Here are some problems that I face"; please instead write each separate question such that it asks for a specific, correct answer. emacs.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask
    – bignose
    Jan 5, 2023 at 5:06
  • 3
    Your question may not be specific enough, and I think it might be more appropriate to post it on Reddit. Jan 5, 2023 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


If you had a GNU/Linux at work you would still face the privacy issue. So in any case here's what I'd do regarding data segregation.

So let's say A is your computer at home and B is your computer at work.

On A I'd have

  • an Orgzly folder to put all my Agenda org files, plus the org files I want to be able to edit with my smartphone.
  • an Org-Mode folder to put the rest of my org files. In regard to work, on Org-Mode, there would 2 different kinds of files: those I want to share with B and those I don't want to share with B. You can put the first kind in a Shared folder and the second in a Private folder.

On B your work-related org files could be put inside of a Work folder (a subfolder of Shared)

So you'd just have to sync Shared between A and B.

Regarding your Agenda files you could also have a Todo folder within Work for your agenda files related to work, and add this folder to Orgzly through Syncthing. So you would have a complete view of your tasks on your smartphone (you could also have a complete view at home if you'd like to).

As for the Emacs config file, I'd recommend writing it in an org file (let's say emacsinit.org that you would put somewhere in Shared. Then you'd just have to write this in your .emacs (on GNU/Linux, Windows or macOS):

(require 'org)
(org-babel-load-file "PATH/emacsinit.org")

So your config file could be easily synchronized.

Also, Dropbox has access to all your files, so I wouldn't use it. Use Syncthing instead.

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