Using your iPhone as a laptop replacement

Posted on Mon, 25 Aug 2008 in Productivity

I recently went to YAPC::Europe 2008 which was a technology conference about perl. Usually when I go to these kinds of events I log my laptop along and a big bag for cables and stuff. At this YAPC I did too - for the first day. The second day I did an experiment:

Could I replace my laptop with my iPhone?

As it turns out, this is actually doable, if you are willing to accept the smaller screen and the more cumbersome input of text. When I'm at a technical conference I usually need the following things to function: - A Browser - An IRC Client - SSH Client - OmniFocus - A Text editor


MobileSafari is way cool, and the best mobile browser I have tried. I use it for looking stuff up, and casual surfing when the talk/session is not that interesting(this is usually not the case at a perl conference).

IRC Client

You'd be amazed at how much more fun the conference is when you have access to IRC at the same time. I used MobileSafari to find mibbit a web-based IRC client, that can connect to any IRC-Server you want. I normally use irssi for IRC, and it would have been much cooler to use that on my iPhone. But at the time of the conference I did not have an SSH Client.

SSH client

Being able to connect to remote servers is a must, and this is the feature I missed the most. On my old jail broken iPhone I had MobileTerminal, a most excellent terminal program that gives you full access to everything on your iPhone - unfortunately this app is not available on a non jail broken iPhone as my new iPhone 3G :-( After the conference a nice little SSH Client has appeared in the App Store.


At a perl conference such as YAPC::Europe you are bombarded with useful information and new things you will want to play with when you get home. I use OmniFocus to create actions for all the cool new things I should research when the conference is over.

Text editor

In case I want to write stuff down. Most of the stuff I write down goes into OmniFocus, and the rest I put into Notes which is not the greatest app but it'll do for small notes.

Conclusion: The iPhone aka The Tinytop

Yes! - It can be done, and as time goes more and more cool apps appears in the Apple App Store. Having a SSH Client opens up a whole new world, as you are now able to do most things you do on a Unix server on an actual Unix server. Oh... if you want to try this yourself, don't forget your USB charger as this will definitely drain your battery.