Synergy – share mouse and keyboard between computers

One of the main problems I had (about a year ago) with working, or using the computer, when at home, was that I did not have a proper seating arrangement, and so used to end up slouching in the couch, or torturing my spine in bed, or some such. So I got myself this desk from Target.
My computer desk

Now the problem with working from home was that when I work on the laptop, the laptop keyboard on top of the desk made for an uncomfortable typing position. The keyboard tray in the desk is already occupied by the desktop’s keyboard and mouse — so I can’t place an external usb keyboard and mouse on the tray for use with my laptop.

So as things were, I used to work, and use the computer at school.


Until tomorrow. Today I installed Synergy on my desktop as well as laptop. This was very easy to do – $sudo apt-get install synergy was all it took, thanks to Ubuntu’s magical software management. Then I edited a synergy.conf file onthe desktop following the instructions at the wiki.

The following is the entire content of the file /etc/synergy.conf :


section: screens
        # two hosts named:  umberto(desktop), milan(laptop)
        umberto:
        milan:
end

section: links
        # umberto's screen is to the right of milan's
        umberto:
                left = milan
        milan:
                right = umberto
end

Then the desktop was ready to act as a “server”, that is the machine that has the keyboard and mouse physically connected to it. $synergys --config /etc/synergy.conf got synergy running.

Now, on the laptop, I installed synergy, and I fire it up using $synergyc umberto (where umberto is the host-name of the desktop). That’s it, now I can use the same mouse and keyboard for both the desktop and the laptop. When I move the mouse to the extreme left on the desktop’s monitor, and then a little more to the left, the mouse pointer pops into the laptop’s screen, and now the mouse and keyboard can be used for the laptop. When I move the mouse to the extreme right of the laptop screen, it pops into the desktop, and now the kyboard and mouse can be used with the desktop. This is so magical, almost, when you try it – especially since setting it up was so effortless.

I wonder why I took so long to set this up, really. Now I can’t wait to do this at the lab too, where I have another desktop, keyboard and mouse waiting :)

Come tomorrow, I might just feel better about working from home, and save myself at least the late-evening trip back to the lab.

Oh, Synergy works for windows and macs too, and for any and all combination of OSes, and for multiple computers. So you can have 5 computers and monitors all controlled by the same keyboard and mouse. Isn’t that great!

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6 Responses to Synergy – share mouse and keyboard between computers

  1. robotgeek says:

    This is an extremely cool/useful idea. Thanks for the tip.

    Well, i guess I will mess with this during the weekend!

  2. Justin Moore says:

    I just did the same thing today for my SuSE Linux laptop and a WinXP desktop. The coolest thing about it for me is sharing the clipboard between the two computers. Copy/pasting between Linux and Windows just saves me a ton of time.

  3. Abhishek says:

    this is a great idea. thanks for sharing it.

  4. Sindhura says:

    This is a cool feature. Thanks for letting us know.

  5. Subru says:

    Visited your blog again. I use Synergy as well at work to share the keyboard and mouse between a windows laptop and a Red Hat linux box, and it’s really amazing. There are other alternatives, like X2VNC, but I find Synergy to be the easiest to set up and use.

  6. Sriram S says:

    Hi,

    Synery is used by our NMC team and its of great help monitoring flaps.

    Regards
    Sriram

    http://unixdesk.blogspot.com