Synergy for Multiple Computers

I am currently using two computers on my desk. One is my mac laptop hooked to a 30 inch display and the other is an Ubuntu machine hooked into a 24 inch display. In the past I’ve used a KVM that let me put everything on a single monitor and switch between machines. However, it is often helpful to have multiple monitors so you can see what the other computer is doing before switching to it.

This can be done simply by setting up separate systems and using multiple keyboards, mice and monitors. However, the keyboards and mice are a bit redundant, take up a lot of desk space and tend to make things very confusing.

Synergy is a program that will allow you to share your keyboard and mouse between multiple computers. You configure the server (the computer where the keyboard and mouse are physically attached) to know which screen is on which side of your main monitor. Then when you move your mouse off of one computer screen, it appears on the other.

So far, this seems to be working very well and lets you treat both computers as if they are one big desktop.

At first, I had problems getting the Ubuntu desktop to launch Synergy automatically when it started. There were some instructions on the web for modifying a bunch of system files, but it didn’t seem to work. What did eventually work was to go to:

System > Preferences > Startup Applications

and adding a new startup program with the command:

synergyc --name desktop laptop-name.local

desktop is the name that the ubuntu desktop is refered to in the config file on the synergy server (my laptop). laptop-name.local is the dns name that will allow the ubuntu client to find the Synergy server running on my laptop.

I also set the Ubuntu desktop to automatically log me in. Otherwise, I’d have to have a keyboard and mouse hooked up (or use VNC) just to get to the point that the startup application would run and launch t


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