In the finally-got-off-my-butt-and-did-it department, I now have a network drive that all of the computers here can talk to. The NSLU2 (network storage minus the storage) I bought two months back has been sitting on my desk with a big USB drive plugged in (under the desk). The NSLU2 runs samba. The laptops saw it right away. The last, lingering step was to get the Linux boxes talking to it. Done. This is the first time since I've owned more than one computer that they've all been able to directly share storage. No more sneaker net or bouncing files off a remote server. The network drive needs its own backup, but that's the easy part.
Everyone is now safely (cough) backed up, and I can get on with the Ubuntu upgrade that my desktop has been nagging me about for weeks.