Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One keyboard and mouse, multiple computers

If you're like me, you're surrounded by computers.
My setup at work is three workstations and a total of 6 monitors.

Today, I discovered the program, Synergy (Link to site & download ),  which allows a single mouse and keyboard to easily move between the computer with the keyboard and mouse, to control computers, without any special commands. There are downloads for Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu/Debian, Fedora/Redhat and they offer their Source code. The program is free.

As you move your mouse to the side of your screen, it is sent to the other computer along with your keyboard. You choose where to position the clients, so that it makes sense when you move the mouse past that side of the screen. It is very similar to having multiple monitors.

To setup:
(Windows Installation, but others likely have similar setup process)
written for a local network.

Download the file to and run the installation on all machines
Decide which computer will be server

  • choose: "configure server"
  • Drag the the computer/monitor icon in the "server configuration" window, to where you'd like your other desktops to sit, in comparison to the server monitor.
  • Double Click on the new unnamed computer you've added
  • Give it an arbitrary screen name, like 1, test, or anything that is not the name of the user nor computer
  •  Create aliases that this computer may go by. My user name is OS and my laptop is OS-LAPTOP, so I added both of those.
  • Create computer/monitor references for all machines you intend to attach
  • Once you've completed the server setup, click START in the lower right corner of the program. The server should start without errors and wait. You can now minimize the program.


  • On the client machine synergy software, ensure that the "client" box is checked and the computer name of your server is present. Hit start. So long as your computer's name has been added to the server, it should connect, you can now minimize the software.

You should be up and running at this point. You may need to unblock ports and possibly turn off internal firewalls if you are unable to connect.

Other thoughts;
 - you should be able to see all monitors you'd like to use, simultaniously, so you don't lose the mouse (If you want to control a desktop where you can't see the monitor, consider using the default windows remote desktop instead.)

- this software lets you position the desktop in 16 directions, double stacked, including diagonally.

-I chose to install both server and client as a service, so I didn't have to mess with them so much. This also takes away the desktop icon and gives you back a few kb of ram. You still have to open the .exe if you want to make changes.

-Scroll lock keeps your mouse on one screen, helpful for playing video games.

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