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I've got two laptops which I want to keep as similar as possible and do backups on them.

What should I use just to have all files from one laptop on the other? How can I avoid data loss when I use both laptops?

For example changing Firefox history on both laptops without syncing? As far as I know, rsync etc. would discard changes of the older one, making syncing essential.

I don't want to use the cloud for obvious reasons.

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You can set up rsync and put it in cron to run from time to time. –  LnxSlck Aug 7 '12 at 22:50
    
Please clarify what data you want to sync. Is it files in your documents folder? Is it photos as seen via Shotwell with all the tags, captions, etc.? Please edit the original question to answer these question. –  user68186 Aug 7 '12 at 22:57
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I am assuming you are talking about data in userspace (essentially stuff that lives below /home/x3oo ). You want to probably avoid syncing everything: There is little point in dragging cache files around. So as people have commented, you need to figure out what files you want to sync.

If it's just about firefox browser history, passwords, open tabs etc. you should look into the firefox sync. Since you indicat that you are uncomfortable with cloud storage you could also consider the more general File Synchronizer Unison. It will do most of what you need.

Unison can be set up to run automatically, on certain directories, exclude certain files, keep some backup copies and do your laundry. If you find unison might work, come back with questions about it for your particular situation.

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