There's always time to play

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Synergy when you need it

Perhaps some of you people have already heard about synergy. For those of you who haven't heard about it before, synergy allows you to share one keyboard and mouse between multiple computers. Synergy works on *nix and windows, that'll do for most people. When I bought my Mac Mini I decided that I'd hook up my Razer Diamondback to it, and I also bought an apple (wired) keyboard with my Mac Mini so the mini was going to be my synergy server.

From that point there's just 2 problems left to solve. The first is, how to connect to the synergy server. You need to specify an hostname or ip-address to connect to the server, so there's an easy solution: avahi/bonjour/rendezvouz/zeroconf. OS X supports bonour out of the box. Just give your Mac a nice name and you'll be able to reach it at .local. Mine's called Mini, so I can reach it at mini.local. Now the clients need bonjour support, which you can get with avahi. Ubuntu includes avahi by default, so if you're on ubuntu there's no extra work involved. I'm more of a Gentoo user though, and if you're on Gentoo you can just get Avahi from portage. Read the comments while it's emerging, they'll tell how to enable hostname resolving.

The first problem's solved. The second problem is how to start synergy. On your Mac you can get SynergyKM: Synergy and a nice GUI in one package. It'll add a system preferences item for synergy where you can change everything you'll ever need for synergy. On the clients I added synergy to the Gnome session startup programs. Now when you log in they'll start. This leaves part of this problem unsolved, how do you log in? The solution is quite simple. If you use GDM there's a /etc/[X11/]gdm/Init/Default, which can also be used to execute extra commands. Just add a line synergyc mini.local before the exit statement (replace mini.local with your synergy server hostname of course) and you'll be able to log in using synergy. So now all you need is one keyboard and one mouse to control your 5 computers ;-)

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