Saturday, May 21, 2011

Synergy - Share your mouse and keyboard

As my PC was unreliable just when I needed it the most, I got a laptop to do software development. Now it looks quite cumbersome to switch keyboards to work on the two machines so I was looking for a solution that would enable me to use my keyboard and mouse on both computers. And, here, the solution is Synergy.

Synergy is Free and Open Source Software that lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers, where each computer has it's own display. No special hardware is required, all you need is a local area network. Synergy is supported on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

The first thing I liked about their site is that they are using Redmine! :)

Wow! Now that I've installed it, I can't believe it is this simple and easy! Screens are configured graphically, as per their physical location in relation to one another. Then, simply move the cursor over the edge of the screen and you're on another computer! Mouse and keyboard work on the selected workstation. Of course, only the Server's response to keyboard and mouse events is perfect, while the rest travels over the network but, for all sakes and purposes, it is decent enough for standard use. I can hardly notice that these are not the two computers anymore. The feeling is as this really *is* a single platform.

Awesome work, guys!

One problem I've noticed is if you open Resource Monitor on Windows 7, that somehow kills Synergy on that screen/computer (I only have one screen per workstation so can't tell for sure). If you had Resource Monitor (RM) open before starting Synergy, then both will work fine, except that you won't be able to operate or close RM window. :) 
This happens if you run Synergy as as ordinary user and then open an application that requires elevated privileges to run. So, in order to not experience these issues simply run Synergy "As Administrator". 

Another beautiful thing that feels natural when you work in this fashion is that Copy/Paste works across the workstations. This works for text (and maybe some other clipboard content) but not files. File transfer is quite cool with Dropbox LAN sync or just sharing folders through Windows.

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