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Last post Author Topic: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse  (Read 36149 times)

taichimaster

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Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« on: February 12, 2006, 08:53:03 PM »
Hello all,

I did a search on the forum and didn't see it mentioned, so I figured I would share something that I use everyday.

Synergy

Do you have multiple computers on your desk with each comuputer uses its own monitor? 
Do you have a desktop but also have a laptop that sitting next to it?
Do you have a Linux/Mac machine on one side and a Windows box on the other?
Do you need the resources of mulitple computers but want to work with them as if they were a single unit?
Do you want to keep an eye on other things while playing your favorite MMORPGs on one monitor while the game runs on the other without any slow-down? (or control 2 characters at once?)

If your answer is YES, and you want to control multiple computers with a single keyboard and mouse, then Synergy is for you.  It is an application that lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware (all it needs is TCP/IP).

At my workplace, I typically use 3 computers.  Two desktops and one laptop (each have its own display).  Before I discovered Synergy, if I want to control the other systems other than my primary, I typically remote control (vnc, funk proxy, rdp, you name it) to the box so I could use the same mouse and keyboard.  That might be good enough for most users, but Synergy allows you to do much more!

Redirecting the mouse and keyboard to another system is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen (with no lag time whatsoever!)



Playing a game and doesn't want it to jump screens?  No problem, just toggle the Scroll Lock key.

Another nifty feature is the sharing of clipboards of all systems, thus allowing cut-and-paste (text and image) between systems.  Copy a block of text in your Windows box and paste it to your Linux/Mac machine, no problem.  It even converts the newlines to each computer's native form so cut and paste between different OS works seamlessly.  It does it all in Unicode so any text can be copied.

On top of that, it also synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together.  If screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.

I have been using this fantastic piece of software every day for almost a year and it definitely WOWs my coworkers.  I wouldn't say I haven't encountered any hiccups (it loses the SHIFT, CTRL key once in a while), but moving the mouse back and forth from the primary screen to the secondary usually solves the problem.  You may find the setup process is a little complicated at first, but try sticking with it.  It's free, open source, and I strongly recommend you to try it out and donate to the author if you found it useful.   Believe me, until you have used it, you don't even realize what you have been missing.

Note that Synergy is not a remote desktop application.  Each system continues to need its own monitor to display that machine.  Synergy just allows you to seamlessly move between the screens with just a single keyboard and mouse.

System Requirements
    * Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me (the Windows 95 family)
    * Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP (the Windows NT family)
    * Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
    * Unix
          o X Windows version 11 revision 4 or up
          o XTEST extension
            (use "xdpyinfo | grep XTEST" to check for XTEST)

View the Full Features at http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/about.html
View What's new at http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/news.html
Download at http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=59275&release_id=379175

Before I end this mini-review, I would like to mention some alternatives that I have tried.  AFAIK, Synergy is the ONLY one that has full support on all three major platforms:  Windows, Linux/Unix and Mac.

Stardock's Multiplicity http://www.stardock.com/products/multiplicity/
This is NOT free and it currently supports Windows only.  OS X client is in development.  It has a very simple interface for setting up.  The Pro version costs $69.95 but it lets you copy files/folders (in addition to text/image) between machines (something that synergy couldn't do).  It allows you to control up to 7 computers (primary and up to 6 secondaries).  Standard version costs $39.95 and can only support 3 PCs in total.  Too expensive for my liking.



MaxiVista http://www.maxivista.com/ (what a strange name *grins*)
This app actually does a little more than the rest as it installs a virtual display driver on your primary PC, and allow you to "EXTEND" the screen of your primary PC to another one.  However, although you could drag an application or a window to another PC's screen, it's still taking up the processing power of your primary (so not good for my use). http://www.maxivista.com/multi_monitor.htm



Win2VNC http://fredrik.hubbe.net/win2vnc.html
This one is also free and supports multiple platforms.  But it's not as stable last I tried.

KMRemoteControl http://www.derman.com/KMremoteControl/KMrC-Overview.html
Costs $24.95.  I have not tried this one.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2006, 09:27:45 PM by taichimaster »

nudone

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 02:03:25 AM »
excellent. i just wish i could think of a good reason to use more than the one computer so that i could give synergy a try.

taichimaster, i don't suppose you could mention how quickly 'synergy' could be set up, i.e. can the configuration be saved and ported between other machines?

taichimaster

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 02:43:45 AM »
To be honest, the setup process for Synergy is a bit complicated and un-intuitive.  The configuration for primary and secondary machines is a little different.  On the primary PC, you set up the relative positions of your other PCs.

http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/7018/screenshot2132006123544am2xr.gif
Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse


http://img224.imageshack.us/img224/9462/screenshot2132006123615am8uu.gif
Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse


http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/4781/screenshot2132006123604am0ww.gif
Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse


However, there is a setup wizard available (actually I think it's developed by one of our own members!) which could be found here

Take a look :)


nudone

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2006, 02:53:07 AM »
thanks for the extra info, taichimaster.

jgpaiva

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2006, 03:48:25 AM »
Thanks for the review taichimaster! That program looks good :D
I'm like nunone, i wish i had more computers, to give it a try!

mouser

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2006, 04:25:44 AM »
great mini review! i have a laptop i have to try this on.

Dr-Leech

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2006, 10:05:47 PM »
Nice review.

I'm using WIN2VNC, that does the same job but it uses the VNC protocol. Nice.

Options:
http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/9556/shot002un7.png
Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse


Get it at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/win2vnc/

2stepsback

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2007, 06:24:53 AM »
hi all,
looks to me that all these solutions need both computers to have monitors.

Is there a software that allows you to access another PC from your default first, even when the other has only a box with no mouse, keyboard or monitor, but is connected with  LAN card to your default PC?

Network-booting/Etherboot or similar special hacks will also do as long as they are in software.

KVM = Keyboard Video Mouse

I'm trying not to purchase any KVM hardware because they overprice rare components and take unfair advantage and, there's poor support for those hardware devices if anything goes wrong - means essentially you often end up paying again for such out-of-the-way-products

Any suggestions?
2stepsback
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Deozaan

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2007, 12:32:11 PM »
KVM = Keyboard Video Mouse

Any suggestions?
2stepsback

I think VNC does this, though I haven't ever really used it so I'm not certain.

Get it at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/win2vnc/


tinjaw

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 10:14:21 PM »
I was thinking about purchasing Stardock's Multiplicity and did a search for it here on DC and found this thread. I forgot about Synergy.

I have a few questions that maybe somebody can answer. First off I see that there hasn't been a release of Synergy since April 2006. It is so stable that no new releases are necessary, or has the program fizzled out? Multiplicity is still being updated by Stardock and has been proven to work with games. How well does Synergy work with high-end games? Does the game take a hit in FPS when it is used? I also don't like that Multiplicity is Windows only as I am not.

I guess I can try Synergy and then the 15-day trial of Multiplicity, but that seems like work.  ;)

So, any reason I shouldn't go with Synergy?

Deozaan

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 11:44:34 PM »
I was thinking about purchasing Stardock's Multiplicity and did a search for it here on DC and found this thread. I forgot about Synergy.

I have a few questions that maybe somebody can answer. First off I see that there hasn't been a release of Synergy since April 2006. It is so stable that no new releases are necessary, or has the program fizzled out? Multiplicity is still being updated by Stardock and has been proven to work with games. How well does Synergy work with high-end games? Does the game take a hit in FPS when it is used? I also don't like that Multiplicity is Windows only as I am not.

I guess I can try Synergy and then the 15-day trial of Multiplicity, but that seems like work.  ;)

So, any reason I shouldn't go with Synergy?

I don't think I ever tried any high end games on a PC I wasn't directly controlling. I don't think it would affect the FPS, since you're still displaying everything and processing everything on the same computer, but I do wonder about the speed in which the mouse updates. Kind of like lag in a network game. Still, if it's a LAN connection it should be pretty quick. I can't see why it wouldn't work well. Just remember to lock the screen so your cursor doesn't stray off to another monitor.


Grorgy

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2007, 03:46:11 AM »
Ive been using multiplicity for a while now, and it works great.  I only use windows so thats not an issue for me.  I read some reviews on it and they all said there are freeware ones and so on but if you want it easy, want it to work out of the box, probably, they did mention some people had trouble with firewall permissions but that was all, then multiplicity takes care of it all.  It does to, i just installed it, it asked me to choose what computer was what which side and so  on and i've been able to ignore it ever since. Installed and working in ohh 10 minutes or less (well i had to figure out dhcp once i started using wireless a bit but that wasnt multiplicity's problem  :-[ )

cmpm

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2007, 12:49:12 AM »
I use synergy with 3 computers.

Benefits are-

1-more screenspace running separate applications that will not interfere with each other
in other words I can run a podcast chat and internet using separate machines and monitors-good for these old eyes

2-Only one keyboard and mouse required to run 3 machines, saves a lot of space, and you can keep mice and keyboards on the other computers and they stay operational. I have mine put away but easy to grab if needed.

3-Not Synergy related particularly, but if upgrading one computer you can use another if you have more then one in front of you. So you can do upgrades (and maintenance) which are sometimes long and still access a system free from other tasks.

And Synergy is really easy to setup once you understand what info it needs. It's more simple then I thought anyway.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 12:51:59 AM by cmpm »

iphigenie

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2007, 06:11:29 AM »
3 computers = 3 screens on desktop  :o

I guess I will stick with remote control (if i need to share clipboards) and/or my console switch

cmpm

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2007, 08:23:42 AM »
actually 4 screens since one has dual monitors
i have programs that run and keep me updated on various things
 :tellme:

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2007, 10:35:27 AM »
Multiplicity is good too but only issue I found is that it uses keyboard configuration of the secondary pc instead of primary. So if you have another language or another keyboard (dvorak vs qwerty) you need to guess keys in your primary keyboard.

wraith808

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2007, 02:42:30 PM »
I've actually used both.  I bought the ThinkDesk subscription, which includes multiplicity.  I used Synergy for a while, because it's more flexible than Multiplicity, and I don't have the pro version of Multiplicity and wanted to span across multiple desktops.  For the money, it can't be beat.  However, I'm using Multiplicity again at home.  Why?

1. Multiplicity is better at regaining lost connections.  Synergy keeps increasing the connection time with each failure, until it won't connect for a *long* time.  This is good in theory, but bad in practice.  I'd disconnect my laptop, and come back and it wouldn't connect.  As my other computer is in a very out of the way place, this was a pain to correct.

2. Synergy doesn't seem to handle changes in IP addresses as well as Multiplicity in my experience.

3. With some games, Synergy wouldn't handle the mouse moves as well.

4. Synergy seems to lag more with more CPU usage, but didn't have that problem with Multiplicity.

Like I said, for the money (free) Synergy is a good solution, and it's more flexible on placing than Multiplicity, and it handles CTRL+ALT+DEL.  But Multiplicity seemed a lot more robust in my usage.

tinjaw

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2007, 05:20:28 PM »
wraith808,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. That is the kind of info I was looking for.

cmpm

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2007, 11:43:50 AM »
hmmm, i thought synergy went by the name of the comp, not the ip address, but perhaps it can do that also, the ip addresss thing.

And you can hit force reconnect on synergy though it may take a little time.

I haven't tryed Multiplicity so I can't speak of the differences and advantages.

But I'd like to try it, though I don't really need the operation as a necessity.

Grorgy

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2007, 12:30:17 PM »
I origiinally couldnt see a nexessity for this type of thing either, though I was on the prowl for a way to share mouse and keyboard to cut down on clutter without it being a big priority for me.  Stardock then sent me an offer on multplicity pro, so i gave the trial version a go.  It was so easy to set up and the pro version lets you copy and paste files and folders from one computer to the other, (it supports up to 6 computers I think but i only have 2 so I dont know how well it works in greater numbers)  It has made sharing of files and folders and just text snippets an absolute breeze.  You can be writing in word , say on one screen, have your browser (or any other app for that matter) on the other and cut and paste when you need to

My opinion is that these apps may not be necessary but having used one I would not like to have to go back to not using one, saves soo much time.  So whether its multiplicity or some other similar app I would recommend giving them a try.

wraith808

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2007, 03:28:38 PM »
hmmm, i thought synergy went by the name of the comp, not the ip address, but perhaps it can do that also, the ip addresss thing.
It does go by the name of the computer, but there's an IP address underlying... and if the IP address of the computer changes, and it can't resolve, you're in a world of trouble.  On multiplicity, it uses the computer name, also, but also lets you specify the IP address, and whether or not to look up the IP address each time. 

And you can hit force reconnect on synergy though it may take a little time.
Well, yes.  But to force a reconnect, I have to go to my computer that's ensconced away behind my TV.  Not an optimal plan, and quite annoying at times, since the computer in question is a Sony UX.

wraith808

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2007, 03:29:39 PM »
wraith808,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. That is the kind of info I was looking for.

No problem... if I get the time, I'll try to post some of the config screens for comparison.

cmpm

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2007, 12:22:00 AM »
Quote
It does go by the name of the computer, but there's an IP address underlying... and if the IP address of the computer changes, and it can't resolve, you're in a world of trouble.

I didn't know that. So sometimes I stop synergy and restart it from the server machine and it picks it back up.

Quote
But to force a reconnect, I have to go to my computer that's ensconced away behind my TV.  Not an optimal plan, and quite annoying at times, since the computer in question is a Sony UX.

And I can understand the problem here for sure. We want things to work without constant tweaking, and digging up things we buried, when we have more urgent or important things to attend to.


iphigenie

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2007, 08:51:56 AM »
I would love one of these that doesnt need one screen per computer. After all I have screens that can have more than one input, so it should be possible in some way...

As things stand I tend to use either a kvm or remote admin, but kvms are rarely seamless, and remote admin cant handle games...

I almost bought multiplicity a few times but the clutter of multiple screens just stopped me


cmpm

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Re: Synergy: Sharing your keyboard and mouse
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2007, 11:02:27 AM »
I would think you could use the powertoy, desktop-toolbar to switch between screens. I don't know though, I haven't tried.

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