Check for ssh and what comes with it. The client is installed, you need to install the server (sudo apt-get install openssh, if i recall correct).
To move stuff around you might use rsync ( -e ssh ...) instead of scp. I for one would edit the cfg-files with nano, vim or another cli-editor (to avoid moving them around), but that is up to you.
You could also use ssh with the -X option and open gedit on your netbook.
It's rather easy (both: setting it up and using it).
ups: I missed the previous post. Sorry.
PS: You might also consider replacing VNC by No mashine/NX (for me its way "faster" than VNC)