Saturday, June 17, 2006

Synergy Keyboard and Mouse Sharing

Working with multiple computers at the same time can be a pain if you don't have everything set up nicely. Many people use some type of KVM device to share the same Keyboard, Monitor (V=Video) and Mouse. Typically, you will plug one keyboard, one monitor and one mouse into the KVM and then plug special cables from the KVM into each of the servers. You can switch which computer you are controlling by pressing a button on the KVM or pressing special keyboard combinations.


Synergy
Another option is to use an open-source program named Synergy. Synergy allows you to use the same keyboard and mouse for multiple computers. Each computer still uses its own monitor. When you roll your mouse cursor off one monitor, it will appear on the monitor of your other computer.

The biggest difference between a KVM and Synergy is that Synergy is a software solution. The keyboard and mouse actions are sent from one machine to another over the local network. Synergy can be used on different operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. This is an awesome solution if you have a lot of computers, a lot of desk space and a lot of monitors.


Who Needs Synergy?
At my work, our QA team has to run multiple operating systems at their desks. They also have the luxury of having 3 twenty-inch (and sometimes 24") flat panel displays at their disposal. Their PCs typically have a dual monitor set up and the third monitor is hooked up to their Mac. This allows them to bounce back and forth between computers without pressing a button on a KVM. It also allows them to watch processes on both computers concurrently.


Setting Up Synergy
First, you must decide which computer will be the server. The server is the computer whose keyboard and mouse will be shared. The other computers will be clients. To set up Synergy, you must do the following (in this example the server is on the right and the client is on the left):

Download the executable from SourceForge.net
Install the program on the client
In the Synergy program window, make sure the "Use another computer's shared keyboard and mouse (client)" radio button is selected
Type in the name of the server in the "Other Computer's Host Name" textbox


Click the AutoStart button
Click the Install button under the "When Computer Starts" text

Now click "Start"
That's all you need to do for the clients!

Install the executable on the server
In the Synergy program window, make sure the "Share this computer's keyboard and mouse (server)" radio button is selected
Click the "Configure..." button
Click the "+" button under Screens
Type in the Server's name under "Screen Name" and click OK

Click the "+" button under Screens again
Type in the Client's name under "Screen Name" and click OK
In the "Links" section, set it to "0 to 100% of the left of [RIGHT_COMPUTER] goes to 0 to 100% of [LEFT_COMPUTER]" and then click the "+" button
In the "Links" section, set it to "0 to 100% of the right of [LEFT_COMPUTER] goes to 0 to 100% of [RIGHT_COMPUTER]" and then click the "+" button
Click the OK button on the "Screens & Links" window
On the main Synergy window, click the AutoStart button
Click the "Install" button in the "When Computer Starts" section
Finally, click the "Start" button in the main Synergy window

Now, run your mouse off the left of the server onto your other computer! w00t!


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