home office update

I had two computers on my L-shaped desk: my desktop and my work laptop (connected to a real display and keyboard, of course!). Switching back and forth between the two was getting annoying, until I read about a package called Synergy, that allows sharing one keyboard and mouse over the network among multiple computers.

I now have two displays side-by-side on my desk! Synergy works very well; the desktop switching is seamless, and all keyboard events (including the Windows key) get sent to the correct computer. Even the clipboards are synchronized; I can cut and paste between the two computers! Synergy can be configured to start at boot time, so even after a reboot (common on the work laptop), I still only need the one keyboard.

I’ve had two minor problems. The first was that I initially started with the server on the laptop and the client on the desktop. HP “upgraded” my firewall, and the new firewall blocked the Synergy server, so I had to swap their roles. The second is that when the Windows Explorer process gets busy with network delays or timeouts, switching between the two computers no longer works; it appears that the required events aren’t being sent to the Synergy software, or something else is blocking Synergy from switching displays. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often.

Overall I’m quite happy; I have better separation between work stuff and personal stuff, but without the annoyance of separate keyboards and mice. I recommend this software.

posted at 9:43 am on Thursday, October 30, 2008 in Personal | Comments (7)


  1. David Brake says:

    How is this different from running VNC and displaying/controlling one computer using the other’s keyboard and mouse? That’s what I do with my PC and ibook combo.

  2. Pia says:

    Hi, do you really live at 64 Clareville? I’ve searched around for pictures but don’t see any around your site… My dad built that house, I grew up there, I’m curious as heck :) feel free to shoot me an email. ps my husband set me up with Synergy last year, I love it, works great. We do a lot of gaming so I use one machine for playing and zip to the other for looking up game info so I don’t have to tab out of the game.


  3. chk says:

    The house has changed a bit since you lived here! I sent you e-mail with some of the details…

  4. Pia says:

    thanks! Sorry if this is weird, the internet can be a creepy place, I promise I won’t try to get you to help me move 280 million dollars over from Nigeria or something! :D

  5. chk says:

    LOL! It’s pretty easy to avoid creepiness on the Internet when you can claim that it’s your name carved in the concrete outside my patio door… :-)

  6. Jeff K says:

    There’s something to be said about privacy, I guess.

    I presume “Pia” is an Estonian name? Dad Toomas moved out Dec. 15, 1992?

    Incidentally, chk knows me, I’m harmless, I don’t really have a drawer full of watches beside my bed. Its only half full.

    I love going to the Estonian bakery downtown. Know of any good ones besides Broadview/Danforth?

  7. Reid says:

    Ya, Synergy rules. I used it at work for a while. It’s also cross-platform. So I had one mouse/keyboard for my Mac, Windows and Linux machines. It was a little awkward, because the Windows and Linux machines shared a monitor, using different inputs (DVI vs VGA).

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