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January 16, 2008


Filed under Reviews, Software


If you have multiple computers on your desk and want to control them all with a single keyboard/mouse...you got to try Synergy.

I have a Windows box and a Linux box at work. I had both systems setup next to each other. I was constantly using the wrong keyboard/mouse when I would switch systems.

Now I use Synergy and just a single keyboard/mouse. When I want to switch to my Linux box from Windows, I simply drag the mouse cursor on Windows in the direction of the Linux monitor and the mouse pointer magically appears on Linux and all keyboard input now goes to the Linux box. When I want to go back to Windows, I just drag the mouse cursor back towards the Windows monitor. It looks like a dual-monitor setup because the mouse just slides back and forth between the two computers as if it were the same mouse.

How does it work? One system is a server (in my case, my Windows box) and one is a client (my Linux box). The server has the keyboard/mouse attached to it. When you move the mouse to an edge, Synergy redirects keyboard/mouse output to the client over the network connection. It works like a software-based KVM switch (but doesn't do the video).

It even supports copy/paste between systems! And when my screen-saver kicks in on Windows, my Linux box does the same...and they both wake up when I touch the mouse.

It is definitely better than a desktop filled with keyboards and mice for multiple systems.

And best of all, Synergy is free!

Highly recommended! Give it a try!

Comments (14)

Mike Schriever:



Why not get a KVM switch? That way you can control all your computers with one monitor, one keyboard, and one mouse.


I've been using Synergy for a couple of years now @work. It's really great! I keep the second keyboard and mouse under the desk.
One thing I wish it could do is send a cntl-alt-del from the server to the client. If the client PC hangs you have to drag the keyboard out and take control that way. A minor inconvenience.
Also copy-paste doesn't always work across PCs. But a restart of the Synergy app on both machines usually fixes it.
Can't argue with performance for the price though! It has increased my productivity for sure.


Why no KVM switch?

- Synergy is free
- I have a monitor for each PC...
no need to switch monitors
- No buttons to push or odd keystrokes
to remember to switch computers...
just move the mouse to the monitor
you want to use
- Copy/paste across computers...when I get
an issue on Linux I need to send to someone,
I just copy the console text and then open
a new email in Outlook on Windows and paste!

KVM would have the advantage that I wouldn't need the Linux keyboard/mouse around for bootup when Synergy is not yet running. As far as a computer is concerned...with a KVM the computer opperates identically...with Synergy there are potential issues (like rebooting your server takes away the mouse/keyboard on the client...not so with KVM).

That said, I'm still very happy with Synergy...no plans to try a KVM at this point.

I switch between Windows and Linux super-often, but I often need double monitors on both. So I set up an even kookier setup, where both the top and bottom of both screens wrap around to the other computer. That way I can switch the monitors and mouse up or down to get my mouse and keyboard there. Or I can have one screen of each OS and mouse diagonally between them.

My only complaints are: (1) switching the monitors manually is a real pain, and (2) sometimes processor-intensive tasks on the host computer (Visual Studio, I'm looking at you) make the mouse unusable on the other computer. But overall it's cool.

Joseph Santillan:

I have been using Synergy for as while and love it. Save money on hardware and no need for a lot of cables and junk...

Sweet pickles


What about installing a remote desktop program like Logmein? The free version allows to remote into a remote computer via main computer's web browser. You can copy and paste with no problem. For a paid version you can move files between computers using a Windows explorer like interface. This is like using VNC but the performance is so much better and you don't have to have a server agent running on the remote computer.


Other offerings for paid version.
• Remote Sound Hear email notifications, check web based voice mail or listen to music and podcasts from your host computer
• Drag & Drop Seamlessly drag and drop files and folders between connected PCs
• Sharing Share files or photos instantly with others, even those too large for email
• Remote Printing Automatically print files from your remote PC to your local printer
• Direct Connect Save time and clicks by going directly from the My Computer's page into a remote control or file transfer session
• Mini Meeting Invite a colleague or friend to your PC for an online meeting; view only or full control
• File Transfer Move files quickly between PCs
• File Sync Synchronize files and folders on both PCs in seconds
• Drive Mapping Access drives on your remote PC as if they were local


I think that misses the point of what I'm doing:

- I have a Linux Box
- I have a Windows Box
- Each one has its own Monitor
- I want them to act like a single computer with dual monitors

Synergy does that. I constantly jump back and forth between my Windows and Linux boxes just by moving the mouse to the monitor I want to work on. It is very natural.

I guess I *could* run a dual monitor MS Windows setup and then just open a remote window for Linux (using VMware or something) on one of the monitors. I'd be worried about how Linux OpenGL apps/Linux video apps run in the remote window...some of my Linux apps require hardware acceleration to run and I doubt I'd get that with a software virtualization solution. I've never tried running Linux via virtualization before so I don't know. If anybody has...please post a comment on their experience!

Jason Rooks:

I use synergy. It is a pretty horrible program in my opinion but I can't find a better one. There should be a keystroke to disable it and there should be a menu option to disable it. I play games and move the mouse fast and it alt-tabs me. Also every time I close and start the program I have to click start on the first menu even though I obviously wanted it to start...but ok I don't have any better products.

What a surprise...Jason Rooks being critical of something! WTF?

I agree Synergy is rough around the edges...but it is hard to complain about a free product that has no peers!

@Jason hey dude, check out the FAQ there's instructions there on how to stop your game minimizing and alt-tabbing you out :)



Synergy is the shiz .... Im working with an XP box and an Ubuntu Box I also have remote desktop running for my Server which is located in another city. Honestly I cant see myself working on my Linux box over remote desktop far too much hassles. Plus lack of dual monitor, and Id have to give up one of my monitors on my windowz machine. I cant see how people cant seem to understand the concept and how freaken awesome it is. Just wish it would allow for file transfer between Boxes


I use synergy between 2 cheap ubuntu boxes, one with dual display.. Definitely way better then if I had got a computer for the price of both combined. No need for 10 trillian jiggawatt cpus on a linux desktop.

"What about installing a remote desktop program like Logmein?" It's a completely different thing. Synergy is more of a simulated multiple display computing using two or more computers.

Logmein is the opposite kinda, squishing 2 computers on to one monitor.

Also doesn't seem there is a linux version of logmein and it's certainly not free.
Synergy uses less resources on both computers too.


I know this is an old thread. So don't complain that I am writing to it.

Everyone is crying about synergy - it does have a peer.

Stardock Multiplicity Pro.
Allows monitors in any config, dual screen support, up/dowm/left/right & wrap-around (you will need to go to the advanced button for that)
seemless mouse (like synergy)
screen dim/screensaver/screen lock
$$$! Lose!

&BTW: File copy via LogMeIn, as far as I know, uses your bandwidth 2x - once up, once down. what if you want to move files/ directories, or movie collections, etc - that's what you run 2x PC's for, is more processing power+sync, right? so copying a 2.5gb video render in Vegas Pro Studio over to my laptop to demo it later, uses 5gb of my internet? Why would you?

I can't be bothered linking to it. google is your friend.

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