Synergy for multi-PC goodness

I’ve been using a neat little utility for the past week called Synergy. It allows one keyboard and mouse to control multiple computers over the network, in an extremely intuitive way. You still need a monitor on the extra computers… Synergy kind of merges all your machines into one huge desktop. Check out this video and hopefully you’ll understand.

There are other programs like it, such as Multiplicity and MaxiVista, but the beauty of Synergy is 1. it’s free software (open-source) and 2. it runs on Windows, Linux and Mac. I run Windows 2003 on my main PC, and Gentoo Linux on the other. It also synchronizes your clipboard so you can copy and paste between your different machines as if they were all just one big family.

Now if anyone could be so kind as to donate a Mac Pro to my cause, I could run all three platforms on my desk :)

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5 Responses to “Synergy for multi-PC goodness”

  1. Kerryl says:

    MaxiVista also syncs the clipboard and can Synergy do THAT as well?

    No, it can’t 😉

  2. Billco says:

    Yeah so what ? Monitor spanning is a neat feature, but MaxiVista only runs on Windows… no Mac, no Linux. That makes it worthless to me. The whole point of Synergy is that it bridges heterogeneous desktops into one coherent workspace, so I can write code on my Linux box, design artwork on my Windows box, without having to think about it. It just works.

    If I just wanted two monitors on the same box, I wouldn’t have to pay $29.95 for MaxiVista, I’d just plug the extra monitor into my 2nd VGA port. I used to run 5 monitors on this machine, years ago. All it took was a few extra video cards and a nimble neck :)

    Synergy is basically an open-source implementation of Stardock Multiplicity’s features, with the added bonus of cross-platform compatibility. This means I could plug a Mac into my existing setup as a 3rd display, alongside Windows and Linux and they would all behave coherently as one dream machine.

  3. Simon says:

    By the way, Synergy was first (Multiplicity is a copy). I would not underestimate the seamless switch in MaxiVista between extended screen and remote control. It is really handy. But as you said, Windows only. I find it well worth the $30.


  4. Billco says:

    Simon, that is news to me, as I hadn’t heard of Synergy until a few months ago, after searching for open-source Multiplicity clones, curiously enough :)

    I guess I could see a certain people making use of the extended screen, probably laptop users. It’s another example of using the right tool for the right job. That said, if the commercial implementations could extend their support into the Linux and Mac arenas, they would immediately become more attractive to me. What little I need done on a second Windows box, I can do through RDP.

    One thing I would like to see in these types of utilities is a true software KVM switcher, where scrolling to the edge or pressing hot-keys swaps not only the keyboard and mouse but the display as well. With appropriate security controls this would be a sysadmin’s dream KVM as it could replace RDP and VNC in most setups.

  5. Jane Goody says:

    Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I found a link on Digg telling that the info is awesome. Thanks.