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Workbag is a program which enables a user to synchronize a directory structure with another directory structure. Synchronizing is when the directories are made the same, i.e. One directory structure is updated with changes made in the other. The directory structures to be synchronized don’t need to be in the same file system, or even in the same physical machine. The advantage of workbag is that the directory structures to be synchronized don’t need to be connected via a network – the changes can be carried across on a removable disk.

Example Use

A common example (not real) is a user named Joe who works for A-corp. Joe has a good boss who likes to let Joe work from home about 2 days per day week on his home PC. Joe has a PC at home (Joe-Home) and a PC at work (Joe-Work). Joe wants to ensure that the directory /home/joe/data/work/ on Joe-Home is always synchronised with the directory /home/joe/data/ on Joe-Work, so that he is always opening and saving the latest versions of his files.

Joe also works with large files, which would use up too much of his monthly internet usage, if he were to synchronise his work files over the internet. Joe needs to carry the changes across, when he travels between work and home, using a removable storage medium, such as a CD-RW, or a USB flash drive. This is where workbag comes in. Workbag is a program which automatically creates an archive of files that need to be updated on the other PC, so that this archive can be put onto a CD-RW or USB pen drive, etc. On the other PC, workbag is then used to merge these updates into its directory structure. Workbag also goes the opposite way.

Programs Similar to Workbag and their Differences to Workbag

Windows Briefcase

Microsoft Windows briefcase is similar to workbag, but it actually stores the whole directory structure on the removeable disk! This could be painful if the directory structure is larger in size than any removeable disk. Workbag only stores the changes on the removable disk. Of course, this can be a disadvantage to workbag as well, because windows briefcase allows you to work on your files wherever you take your windows briefcase stored on your removable medium, it doesn’t matter which PC you use it on. Summary:

  1. Windows Briefcase stores the whole directory structure on the removeable medium. This is good in that you can take your work anywhere, and do it on any PC, whether you’ve used it before or not, but it also means that you need a removeable disc that’s at least as large as the directory structure that you’re working with.

  2. Microsoft windows Briefcase is only available for Microsoft Windows. Don’t count on it ever being available for any other platform other than MS windows. Workbag, on the other hand is open-source software. Currently (v0.1.1) it is only implemented on Linux, but in the future, if the demand is there, it should also run on MS Windows and other platforms.

  3. Microsoft windows briefcase has good integration with the windows file system. Workbag is not integrated into the platforms file system at all.

Briefcase Plus

Briefcase plus is the most similar to workbag. The differences are:

  1. Briefcase plus is only available for MS windows. Since it is closed source, you can’t be sure that the authors will ever create versions for other platforms. Workbag is open-source software, it is compiled for Linux but will also be supported on other platforms if the demand arises.

  2. Briefcase plus is graphical user interface (GUI) based, whereas workbag is command-line interface (CLI) based. While a GUI is good for beginners (so they may better picture what is happening), a CLI is good for more advanced users who want to do things like automate groups of tasks using shell scripts, etc. Also, it is likely that workbag will also have an optional GUI in the future, if the demand arises, as it is open-source software.


Rsync is open-source software, like workbag, but it has one serious difference – it requires a network connection between the two computers to be synchronised. Rsync synchronises the directory structures through the network connection. This is bad news if there are large files involved and the network connection in question, is the internet.