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synergy - multiple computers one monitorSynergy: [noun] the term used to describe a situation where the final outcome of a system is greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s far from uncommon for the more experienced computer users to own multiple systems. I, for one, have a Windows XP laptop, a Vista system and a shared Apple desktop computer. Some people own different systems for different occasions; to work, to game, to use on the road.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed the problems with such an extended setup, such as the constant switching between keyboards and mice. Not to mention the space requirements. The space on my desk has been cut in half and I have to do any paperwork in another room.

Solutions exist, of course. You can always purchase a KVM switch to use your mouse and keyboard with multiple systems, or even control your remote system over a network connection through Virtual Network Computing. Many different options exist, one more extended and complicated than the other.

One of these other options is Synergy.

Synergy gives you the ability to manage all of your computers with just one keyboard and one mouse. When properly installed (and configured), you can move from one computer to the other by simply moving your mouse out of the computer screen. You’ll still need a different monitor for every computer, but switching between computers will be as easy as flicking the mouse in the right direction.

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multiple computers one keyboard

Compare it to using 2 monitors on the same computer, where the second screen constantly displays an open VNC connection to your secondary computer. Screens can be arranged in any thinkable order; above, below or next each other. Synergy will also know the difference between two different systems and a dual monitor set-up.

Even unified screensavers and copy-pasting will work between computers (although it’s limited to text on Mac OSX systems).

With Synergy, you can drop your Linux workstation next to your Windows gaming PC, and switch between the two with just a flick of the mouse. You don’t need to worry about “losing” your cursor while gaming, just enable scroll lock and your cursor will be restrained within the current screen.

Download and Install Synergy

Synergy can be used on nearly all platforms. Binary packages are available for Windows, Mac and other Unix-like operating systems, but installation and configuration is far easier on Windows systems.

Installation instructions can be found here.

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