tl;dr: I spent many hours writing a program to save me 2 seconds every time I want to copy-paste between machines.

If you’re like me and you develop software for multiple platforms, you might have a main desktop running Linux along with a MacBook sitting across the room. If this sounds like you, you will have undoubtedly come across the need to share your clipboard among your multiple machines. What’s that you say? Why don’t I just paste my clipboard to Slack? Well, that’s what I did for many months before arbitrarily deciding that that was no longer good enough. I wanted a way to grab my Mac’s clipboard on my Linux PC without having to roll my chair across the room to paste it into Slack. More than that, I wanted it to be completely effortless and always-on.

Enter zeroconf.

I started work on a program (dubbed magiclip) written in Rust that could solve such a dilemma. I knew that a protocol like Bonjour/mDNS would probably be my best bet for an easy; no hassle solution. Unfortunately, there weren’t many crates that implement or wrap such a protocol and there were no crates that contained all the features I would need to complete the project. So I decided to roll my own.

The idea was to have a background process or daemon running that would keep an mDNS service running to advertise to devices on my local network and simultaneously browse for services of it’s own type. All this would be tied together by a command-line client that I could use to pull a devices clipboard. All the user would have to do is run a command, select the device they would like to pull from, and the response would automatically be copied to the local clipboard.

$ magiclip
▸ Walker’s MacBook Pro (2) (Walkers-MacBook-Pro-2.local)
$ magiclip
Copied to clipboard: hello, world!

I started work of zeroconf on my Linux machine wrapping the Bonjour-compatible free alternative: “Avahi”. Avahi is included in most Linux distributions so I thought it would be a good choice. After implementing a Rusty rudimentary wrapper around Avahi, I discovered that Avahi actually offers a Bonjour compatibility layer so you don’t need to implement things twice. Yikes.

Caving to the sunk-cost-fallacy and deciding that perhaps someone could use this as a library to interact with Avahi at a lower-level one day, I decided that I would pretend this compatibility layer does not exist, and just provide two separate implementations unified by two cross-platform interfaces: MdnsService and MdnsBrowser.

I ended up publishing zeroconf on after I realized this might be useful for someone out there and is my main motivation for writing this blog post. This is also my first blog post ever, WOW! If you end up using it, I would love to see it in action in the wild, so let me know!

If you would like to try out magiclip for yourself, be my guest, but I can’t make many guarantees about it functioning on your system right now and it doesn’t currently support Windows.