I recently had to work from home and while I have much of the software I would normally use loaded up on my desktop I found that I needed files or software that was on my work-provided laptop. I also have some custom tools that I wrote running on another laptop running Linux. While I was unpacking the work laptop I recalled having to go troubleshoot a Synergy install for a friend some time ago. I remember thinking it was pretty cool back then. At that time I didn’t have a reason to use it so it slipped to the dusty, cob-web filled recesses of my memory.
The software is cross-platform, running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X which makes it incredibly versatile. The software is released under the GNU Public License (GPL) which makes this software two of my favorite things, Free and Open Source. Synergy allows you to use one of your systems as the controller for the rest. According to their overview, “Synergy lets you share a mouse and keyboard between several computers over a network.”
It works by installing on each of the systems and setting up one instance as the “server”, this is the system where the keyboard and mouse that you intend to use are located. In the configuration of the server you get to set up the position of the other displays, similar to the fashion you PC sets up multiple monitors, you just add displays as necessary. The other systems are configured as “clients”. I found that I have more success pointing the client to the IP address of the server instead of using the computer’s name.
Once you have it installed and configured you can free up all that desk space that you would use otherwise. You can position laptops where ever you want to because now all you need to do is see the screen… I had three of them running all over the place connected to my desktop as the server, that was fun.
I love the fact that it is cross-platform and can run this on the Linux machines I prefer. Another thing that this software does is allow for the systems to share the clipboard, a happy little feature I discovered by accident.
You can find more information and the downloads at their website http://synergy-foss.org/