Synergy: A Software KVM

For years at the places I worked, I used more than one computer at a time. Usually my personal Mac laptop and a Windows desktop. The key piece of software that makes me work with more than one device is a piece of software called Synergy.

Synergy is a software KVM switch (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) but without the video. Instead, it allows you to work on one computer, move the mouse to one side of the screen, and start working on the computer next to it. All of which connected by the local network to control mouse and keyboard.

It doesn’t matter what OS the computers are using. Once they’re set up with Synergy, you use one keyboard and mouse to run as many computers as you wish. Have one computer with more than one screen? Synergy adjusts flawlessly. Even more amazing is that text-only copy and paste works across the computers!

The bugger is getting the system set up. Right now the project is recovering from a bit of neglect as well as a lack of user-centered focus on design. As you’ll read on, we’re now at a point where the setbacks are worked on. I invite you to use Synergy now as it’s stable. Just a bit curious to set up with Windows as the “server” (the computer with the physical keyboard & mouse).

As wonderful this software is, the development story was questionable in the late 2000’s. The maintainer for the original project at went AWOL. New operating systems, namely Windows Vista & 7, required maintenance on the software. There were a few groups trying to make the software work, but a project named Synergy++ came out on top as the successor to the project providing a good chunk of maintenance to the Synergy code. Eventually the project moved to it’s new home, Synergy-FOSS. In the past few days they released the first release under FOSS, brining Synergy back to awesome status.

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