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Just to check that I've understood the problem. Your trying to find a way for the slave machines to wait until the master is up and running on the laptop and then to start their own launch files.

Another question is how are these computers networked, ethernet or wifi?

You should be able to do this will a bash script which is executed when the network connection to the laptop is opened. This script could check if the master is running once every few seconds and then run the launch file when it it is.

The bash script could try and launch one of the standard ROS nodes it should fail with error code 1 if it can't connect to the master. This is one way of testing if a master can be reached, there may be a better way of doing this. When this detects the master is up and running it just needs to run roslaunch and you're away.

Hope this helps.