Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

Summary: It's time again for another Geek Sheet. This time, we're going to show you how to share keyboard, mouse, and video (click for short demonstration) between multiple desktop computers, using different Operating Systems with a free Open Source program called Synergy2.

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It's time again for another Geek Sheet. This time, we're going to show you how to share keyboard, mouse, and video (click for short demonstration) between multiple desktop computers, using different Operating Systems with a free Open Source program called Synergy2.

Are you geeky enough that you need to have multiple PCs on your desk? Perhaps you have a Windows XP system and a Mac, or a Windows XP system and a Linux Machine, or a Windows XP system and a Vista system. To reduce desktop clutter, many people use "KVM" switch devices in order to toggle back and forth between systems. But it's also possible to have multiple monitors on your desk, each attached to a separate system, with a shared keyboard and mouse which you can use to seamlessly move back and forth between systems without having to toggle any switches.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Synergy2, an open source project, is a cross-platform KVM (Keyboard, Mouse, Video) server for Windows, Mac, and UNIX operating systems. It can either act as a Server or as a Client. When running as the Server, it acts as the system which has the mouse and keyboard to be shared, and controls the mouse and keyboard switchover between itself and Client systems. Synergy2 also supports clipboard sharing as well as screen saver password lock synchronization.

Synergy2 Configuration with Linux and Windows XP from Tech Broiler on Vimeo.

In my example, I've configured my Windows XP laptop to be the server, and my Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron desktop to be the client.

First, I downloaded and installed the Synergy2 software on my XP system, by double-clicking on SynergyInstaller-1.3.1.exe.

Next, I fired up the Synergy program and configured my Screens.

synergy2-1.jpg

Select Share this computer's mouse and keyboard (server) and click on the Configure button for Screens & Links.

synergy2-2.jpg

Click on the above photo for detail.

In the Screens and Links dialog, you'll want to add a Screen for each system that is going to be connected to the Server. This includes the system that you are running as the Server itself. Each Screen name should correspond to the actual fully qualified hostname or the IP address of the system the Screen is attached to. So if you have two Screens, one on the Server and one on the Client, you'll want to have a Screen entry for both.

Next, you'll also need to add Links in the same configuration dialog. The Links section controls the panning behavior of the mouse and the keyboard. If your Server's Screen is to the right of the Client, you'll want to establish a link so that whenever the mouse is moved to the extreme left of the Server's Screen, it will continue onto the Client's Screen. You will also need to establish a link so that whenever the mouse is panned to the right of the Client's Screen, it continues onto the Server's. So if you have two Screens defined, you will need two Links.

Next, you'll need to start the Server by clicking on the Start button from the main configuration dialog.

Using a Windows based Client is trivial -- just download and install the Synergy software as before, but click on Use another Computer's shared Keyboard and Mouse (client) and enter the hostname or IP address of the Server machine, and click on Start.

If you are using a Linux based Client, you'll want to follow the instructions from the Synergy2 website on how to install it on your system. From an Ubuntu-based system, all you need to do is open up a command prompt and issue a sudo apt-get install synergy2 <ENTER>.

After installing the software on the client, you'll want to open up a terminal window and issue the following command:

synergy3.jpg

synergyc -f hostname <ENTER> where hostname is the fully qualified hostname or IP address of the Server machine. You should then get output that looks like this:

synergy4.jpg

You can then minimize the window and start moving the mouse around between systems. On your Windows machine, you should see the following status display in your system dock:

synergy2-3.jpg

Clicking on the the green and yellow lightning bolt tray icon will show how how many clients are connected.

For more information on how to configure Synergy2, such as setting up a Linux or a Mac server and encrypted sessions between Server and Client, please refer to the Synergy2 documentation.

What do you want to see on upcoming Geek Sheets? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Software, Hardware, Operating Systems, Servers, Windows

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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8 comments
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  • Very nice utility, but ...

    ... in a world where virtualization seems to be the new trend does this project have a future?
    MisterMiester
    • Absolutely

      Power users are always going to have more than one desktop. And I use my Ubuntu desktop as the console for all my server-based VMs.
      jperlow
    • I use synergy with two XP pc's,

      one is my tablet and one is the desktop (with two screens) in my office. Is have seemless access to all three screens so that I can have my email, my programming and my preview screens all fully available on different screens and even on different machines. When I program for a new web site, I can be viewing code on one screen and previewing on a second while viewing examples and/or manuals, etc. on the third. When doing major calculations (I"m a Chemist), I can set one computer to work on the long CPU intensive calc. while working on the other computer, all seemlessly. Cannot do that with virtualization on a single Machine.
      mjm5
  • A request for future Geek Sheets: bare-metal multiboot

    I know you're a virtualization fan, but can I request a Geek Sheet for a bare metal multiboot computer? I think that would be helpful for many people. Nothing like bare metal, if you feel the need for speed. :-)

    Tip for the Geek Sheet: I have a multiboot laptop myself (8 x Linux, 1 x PC-BSD, 1 x Windows XP Pro). I have found that openSUSE's Grub menu is very handy as "master boot menu", because (unlike e.g. Ubuntu) it's a referral menu. The boot lines refer to the boot menu folders on the other Linux distro partitions, and not directly to the boot lines of those other distro's.

    The advantage is obvious: you don't have to update the boot lines in the openSUSE 11.0 master menu, after kernel updates of the other distro's. Whereas you would have to do that manually, if you would use an Ubuntu boot menu as master.

    Plus openSUSE's menu looks a lot better than Ubuntu's menu. It's always nice if things look nice..... :-)

    Greeting, Pjotr.
    pjotr123
  • RE: Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

    A cool way to configure synergy is to have it wrap around from both ends. I have a laptop that's on the left of my desktop, and have configured synergy in such a way that it's on both the left and right. That way, I can scroll off either way, and get to the other machine. I did this, though, because I'm running a large array of monitors on the desktop, and sometimes it's faster to go to the right to get to the laptop when I'm on the rightmost monitor on the desktop. A side effect of this is that when the laptop is not in the loop, I can scroll off one side of the desktop, and immediately appear on the other side.
    cyclist2918
  • RE: Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

    <b><h2>I found this interesting article about this.</b></h2> <a href="http://www.atelier-us.com/consumers-and-ecommerce/gadgets/article/analyst-predicts-end-of-mouse">Must see</a>.
    Chris-Anderson
  • RE: Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

    Jason,

    Not trying to pick a bone, but is it correct to say (in the title and intro) that you're sharing KM *and* Video? Technically you're not sharing video in any respect - each machine that is joined to the synergy server must have its own monitor, so in effect you're only sharing the KB and mouse...

    Also, have you tried a more actively developed Input Director?

    Finally, you are not limited to just 2 machines - if you set up the configuration correctly you can share as many machines as you want, provided all have network access and OS-compatible clients installed. I used to be a mini-regular at the forums on SourceForge when I used Synergy a lot, and ISTR one person had 3 computers and one had 6....

    Finally, for those of you who have fallen head over heels for W7 - rest assured it does work, although there are some reports out there that W7 is not working 100% correctly....
    johnlgalt
  • RE: Geek Sheet: Configuring Synergy2 to Share Keyboard, Video and Mouse

    I have a PC with Windows7 (CARLOS-PC) and a laptop with ubuntu 11.10 (zerocool-HP).

    In windows I have installed 1.3.8 and synergy I have installed Ubuntu 0.9.1 quicksynergy

    Using Windows as a Server, I have configured as follows: Links:
    CARLOS-PC is left of ZeroCool-HP
    ZeroCool-HP is right of CARLOS-PC

    In Ubuntu I have configured QuickSynergy: Use: Server hostname / ip address: 192.168.100.159 --- Screen name: zerocool-HP

    I try to make the connection, but no effect.

    In windows I disabled antivirus and firewall and still can not make the connection.

    Did something I'm overlooking?
    Carlosow