A post I wrote earlier this year, The Virtual KVM, has one of the highest page rankings on the site. That isn’t really saying much, but the fact that someone hits that page about every other day presumably looking for help in setting up a virtual kvm on two or more computers, and they end up here tells me that there isn’t a lot of information on the web to guide people through the process.
The virtual kvm is a software solution that allows the keyboard & mouse on one computer to control another (so it’s actually just a virtual kv, but who’s counting?) I use it on my desk at work; the desktop PC — an Athlon-powered Lenovo running Windows XP — is on the left, with the keyboard & mouse connected to it, and the PowerBook is on the right. I push the cursor to the right side of the PC’s screen and it jumps over to the Mac’s screen, and any keyboard or mouse input is transferred there. Almost like magic!
Synergy is one of the more popular bits of software for getting the job done, but in its native form, it lacks a lot in the way of user-friendliness. When I first set things up, I found QuickSynergy was an easy way to get the two machines talking to each other. And all was great. Great that is until I upgraded the OS on the Mac to 10.5.
Not sure what it was, but something in 10.5 broke QuickSynergy. Every time it launched, it would hang and finally crash. I wasted a morning trying to get it to work, and nothing seemed to help, so I thought I’d take another stab at setting up Synergy on the Mac side. I couldn’t get it to work the first time, but I should be able to pull it off this time.
Before I had a chance to even download it, I bumped into OS X Synergy GUI, another open source app that works with Synergy, making configuration a whole lot easier. It’s not quite as pretty or polished as QuickSynergy — and it could sure use a custom icon — but it works, so I’m glad I was forced to look again.
Provided you’ve got Synergy running on the server side, getting it to work is pretty simple:
The server portion in the GUI hasn’t been implemented just yet, but the client is what I need, and it works great; even better than QuickSynergy. It connects quickly, and even has a nifty info window that tells you every time the mouse enters or leaves the screen, and any other issue that it thinks you need to know about.
You can quit the app if you like; the synergyc process continues to run and keeps things connected. The only issue I’ve found with quitting the GUI is that when I close the PowerBook and go home, when I open it up in the morning it doesn’t always connect. I then have to go into Activity Monitor, track down the process and kill it, then open GUI again and restart it. Much easier to keep GUI running, then hit the Stop button when I disconnect, and start it up again in the morning.