Synergy is a program that will let you use one keyboard and mouse on multiple computers across a network. The computers can be running Linux, Windows, or MacOS. The computer with the keyboard and mouse is the server or host, and the computers with the displays to be controlled remotely are the clients. In this tutorial I will let you know how to get Synergy setup and running on your Ubuntu system.

On the left-hand monitor I have a Windows XP system running. On the right-hand monitor I run Ubuntu. If I move my mouse off my Windows XP monitor to the right, it shows up on the Ubuntu monitor and vice-versa. Plus cut-and-paste works between the machines as well.

Here’s how to configure Synergy with two computers. Let’s assume that you have two home machines called “windowspc” and “ubuntu”. We’ll put the Windows machine on the left and the Ubuntu machine on the right. One of the two machines will run as the Synergy server and the other will run as a Synergy client. I picked the Ubuntu machine to be the server.

Install Synergy on both Ubuntu and Windows
On Ubuntu : Run the following command

sudo apt-get install synergy

On Windows : Download the .exe program from SourceForge.

On the Ubuntu machine, Create an /etc/synergy.conf file with the following command

sudo vi /etc/synergy.conf

The contents of this file should look like this :

section: screens

section: aliases

section: links
left = windowspc
right = ubuntu

section: options
screenSaverSync = false
# My KVM uses Scroll Lock to switch screens, so set the
# hotkey to lock the cursor to the screen to something else
keystroke(f12) = lockCursorToScreen(toggle)

Things To Note In This Configuration File :

If one of your machines doesn’t have a DNS name, you can use the IP address of that machine. The “aliases” section lets you do that in a clean way. To find your IP address on Windows XP, do Start –> Run –> cmd and type ipconfig /all. On Linux/Ubuntu, use ifconfig to find your machines’s IP address.

In the “links” section, you have to define both behaviors: going offscreen-left on the Ubuntu (right) machine, and going offscreen-right on the Windows (left) machine. In theory you can create really weird mappings, but keeping it simple is usually best.

The “screenSaverSync = false” command says not to link the screensavers of the two machines.

To make this file world-readable, Run the following command :

sudo chmod a+r /etc/synergy.conf

Next, test the server and client and make sure that everything works. On the Ubuntu server, run the following command :

synergys -f –config /etc/synergy.conf

On the Windows client, run Synergy. You’ll need to enter the name or IP address of the Ubuntu Synergy server and then click Test. The Windows program will look like this :

If you’re using a KVM switch, don’t forget to shift your mouse/keyboard back to the Synergy server running on Ubuntu. The mouse/keyboard will be routed through Synergy to your Windows PC, so your KVM switch has to be set to the Synergy server.

If Synergy works fine in test mode, it’s time to run it for real. On the Ubuntu server, run the following command

synergys –config /etc/synergy.conf

On the Windows computer, just click “Start” on the Synergy window.

Once you get Synergy going, it’s incredibly cool to copy some text on the Ubuntu machine, mouse over to the Windows machine, and then paste that text on Windows.

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