Friday, August 22, 2008


Back in college I was a nerd. Honestly, I am still a nerd, but that's beside the point.

In college I had a Windows XP box as my main computer with two monitors. I also had a linux box with its own monitor. Not being one to want to have to switch back and forth between keyboards I quickly devised a complex KVM setup that might give me what I want (using multiple KVMS and crazy logic). After a roommate convinced me a it was a lost cause, another roomate or a random forum post somewhere (I honestly can't remember which) turned me on to Synergy. Voila! Problem solved.

This small opensource app allows two computers, each with their own monitors, to share a single keyboard and mouse. The setup is simple:

  1. install the server on one machine
  2. setup "screens" for each computer you want to connect
  3. configure how the screens connect (e.g. the left side of my windows machine connects to my linux machine and the right side of the linux machine connects to windows)
  4. press start
  5. install the client on the other machine and tell it to connect to the first machine
  6. enjoy
6 simple steps and I could sweet my mouse from one side of my dual monitor setup across to the other monitor and all the way onto the linux machine. Keyboard focus changing as I go.

The setup isn't without its drawbacks (it appears that the Mac client isn't totally complete including copy and paste and invariably you will attempt to drag a window off its host OS and wonder why the mouse stops moving) but for free its great.

Right now I am using it at work to make my testing of our app in Safari easier. Check it out.


Kevin Berridge said...

I use it at work too when I bring in my laptop. I set it up next to the dual monitors on my work machine and I'm off. Really nice.

Ben said...

I didn't think that screen saver syncing being unfinished would be a problem ... but the Mac keeps going into sleep mode every 15 minutes if I don't mouse over there every once in a while. Other than that it works great :)

Oh, and surprisingly it hasn't been a problem going from OS to OS as far as keyboard shortcuts are concerned. Also, its nice that the keys map to the right ones on the Mac without any configuration (alt = command, windows = alt)