Controlling multiple systems simultaneously with Synergy
Synergy lets you combine multiple PCs into a single virtual desktop.
Synergy is a small but powerful tool that lets the user control multiple PCs with a single keyboard and mouse – even across operating-system boundaries. To run Synergy, you'll need at least two PCs, each with its own operating system, monitor, and a working network adapter. The software supports Windows from 95 through to Vista, Mac OS X version 10.2 or newer, and Linux with the latest X server. Prebuilt packages for Windows and Mac OS X are available from the Synergy homepage . An RPM package is available for Linux and can be installed on popular distributions, along with tools such as alien if needed. Some distributions also offer prebuilt packages; for example, Ubuntu has a synergy package in its Universe repository.
Let's imagine a typical network administrator's workplace with a professional desktop running on Ubuntu, and a small notebook running on Vista next to it. To remove the need to keep swapping between keyboards, the administrator decides to install Synergy. Most of the work will be done on the desktop, the Ubuntu system. In Synergy-speak this master system is known as the server, and the administrator will be using the keyboard and mouse attached to it. In line with this, all other devices are clients.
Before you start using Synergy, you need to configure the program by editing the /etc/synergy.conf or ~/.synergy.conf text files. The program relies on the concept of screens: Every computer in the group, no matter whether it is a server or a client, is a screen with a precisely defined position – just like assigning positions to applications on a multiple display setup. You must add the screen name, its aliases, and the position relative to the other devices to the configuration file. It is important to define the position in both directions, left and right. The setup for our case study, and comments on it, are given in Listing 1. There are many more options, all of which are documented on the Synergy homepage .
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