This is a card in Dave's Virtual Box of Cards.

Computers as Workspaces

Page created: 2022-05-03 , updated: 2023-04-17

For some reason, it has only very recently dawned on me that separate computers can be physical workspaces (not just virtual workspaces).

And I see that I’m not alone: Evan Travers just posted this:

Keeping a Separate Creativity Computer (

…​as a response to this:

Keeping a Separate Creativity Computer (

My personal connection to this is the sharp division between what I do on my:

(That last one is probably the most obviously custom tailored for the task! Check out the latest image where I’ve got a screen on one side and breadboard on the other.)

drawing of anthropomorphized computers

These separate physical workspaces are really great because:

  1. They help me separate my "modes" of activity by living in a different part of the house.

  2. I can tailor each one to boot up into an environment for a specific task.

  3. Often, they can be much less distracting than a general purpose all-in-one machine you use for everything.


This isn’t nearly as extravagant as it might first appear. Raspberry Pi computers are plenty powerful enough for the vast majority of the tasks I do and can be extremely affordable (assuming you can actually find one as I write this in these crazy times in the year 2022).

My EeePC is 80 years old (in computer years) and doesn’t cost me (or you) much of anything to keep running for 20 minutes each night. So put Alpine Linux on your old Compaq or Asus and write a novel…​or the next hit indie open-world sandbox game.

My new-to-me Thinkpad laptop is a wonderful little computer and cost just a bit over $100 on Ebay!

Heck, I can buy more computing power in a system-on-chip "microcontroller" for $2 than was available to major world powers when my parents were children. (In fact, I just did: 5 RP-2040s arrived 2022-05-02.) And a lot of Single Board Computers (SBCs) aren’t much more expensive than that. You can SSH into one and have a completely purpose-built environment (down to a custom OS) for a specific project. I have paper notebooks that cost more than these computers.

Electricity-wise, I only power these on when I’m using them and they’re already low-powered machines. So it’s about as polar bear friendly as any computing hobby could be.

I gotta say, though, that true sustainable computing is a fascinating topic that is so complicated: Keeping old machines out of landfills versus power consumption versus new manufacturing versus finite planetary resources versus employing people to make new things versus repairing old things. I’ve literally abandoned projects because I couldn’t decide which route to take on purely technical grounds alone - let alone ethical concerns! (In the unlikely event that this text looks familiar, it’s because I originally wrote it as a reply on Mastodon.)

Aside: This is my first IndieWeb reply

Ah, this is great! So the next day, Evan Travers posted about his post being an indieweb reply:

Indieweb Replies (

And since I’ve been wanting to add IndieWeb elements to my website for a long time and this card is itself a reply (now two), it seems like the perfect time to get my feet wet.

I’m adding the required class properties to some inline HTML in my AsciiDoc content above to make it a reply:

    <div class="h-entry"> <!-- start of indieweb "reply" -->
      <time class="dt-published" datetime="2022-05-03T00:00:00+00:00"></time>
      <a rel="author" class="p-author h-card" style="display:none" href="">Dave Gauer</a>
      <div class="e-content p-name">

    For some reason, it has only very recently dawned on me...

    <a class="u-in-reply-to" href="...">...</a>
    ++++ a response to this:

    <a class="u-in-reply-to" href="...">...</a>

    ...But I digress.

      </div> <!-- end e-content -->
    </div> <!-- end h-entry for reply -->

TODO: remove the author h-card entry when I add 'em to the whole site.