Cross Platform Software KVM Switch (Share Keyboard Mouse Between Computers)

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Synergy is an open source free software that works like a virtual or software KVM switch allowing one to share  one keyboard and one mouse with multiple computers in the LAN. Only requirement is that all these computers must be connected to network. Since Synergy is available for multiple platforms, you can use it to share keyboard mouse across different operating systems be it Windows, Linux or Mac (Mac setup is identical to Linux except for the installation part). It is very easy to use as you can switch between computers by simply moving your mouse to the edge of the screen.

Approach is simple, the computer with the keyboard and mouse physically connected acts as the server and the rest of the machines act as clients.

Installing synergy on Ubuntu 10.04 or 9.10 is the standard procedure

sudo apt-get install synergy quicksynergy

it is similar for Fedora folks using yum

yum install synergy quicksynergy

Installation of quicksynergy is optional, it is a GUI client for the Synergy server. Windows and Mac users can download the server and client from Synergy Website.

Linux Setup

To start the server you need to specify an input file like this, copy its content in a file called synergy.config and save it at a location of your choice, replace the host1 and host2 details with those of your own, you must specify computer names instead of host1 and host2, and also don’t forget to update the ip address of the computers you are trying to share the keyboard mouse with.

section: screens
host1:
host2:
end
section: aliases
host1:
192.168.2.107
host2:
192.168.2.105
end
section: links
host1:
right = host2
host2:
left = host1
end

The command to start synergy is

synergyc -f --config input_file.config

Now you just need to launch the client software quicksynergy on the client computer and enter the ip of the server computer and its name and connect to the server. Now you can choose between the two computers by moving the cursor from once screen to another by moving to right or left portion of the screen determined by the input file.

Setup for Windows

Launch synergy from start menu after you have downloaded and installed it from the website mentioned earlier. You should see a window like this


To setup the windows machine to act as server, choose the option “Share this computer’s keyboard and mouse (server)” and then click on Configure button. This would bring up a window like the one shown below, enter the name of the computer (whatever name you see for it in the Network places) as Screen Name and the ip address in the Aliases field.

Click on the OK button to accept the setting for first computer and repeat the step to add all the computers you want to share the keyboard mouse with. Now we need to setup the relative location of the screens between different computers by using the Links section as shown below.

In the screen shown above we are defining that Host2 is to the right of Host1, and then click on “+” to add the screen links. Similarly we need to define that Host1 is to the left of Host2 to complete the setup as shown below.

Now click OK to finish the setup and then Click on the start button to launch the server. Windows 7 firewall manager would ask you for allowing the connection and making the exception for the server, accept that. Now setup the client part which only requires specification of the server ip address and optionally the Screen name and execute the connection and now you should be able to switch between computers by merely moving the mouse cursor to the chosen edge of the screen, whereby it jumps to the next computer.

Clients and servers don’t distinguish among themselves on the basis of the platform they are running over. So you can connect a Linux client to a server running windows and vice versa. Unlike conventional KVM switches, no more messy wires and and no more pressing of the button to switch between the computer, and it is absolutely free.

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has written 346 posts on this blog.

Meditating towards his "nerdvana", lifehacker is a teacher by the day and a nerdy blogger by the night. He lives to learn and yearns to learn living.

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