Mar 11, 2013

Raise your productivity with Synegry

Welcome back! It has been almost 3 years since my last (public) post. In the meantime I fell in love (with photography), even sung in a choir for a year, successfully finished my high-school, and moved abroad to study cognitive science in this beautiful city of Tübingen... But I also remained passionate about programming, computers and other gadgets. Once a freak, always a freak ;)

Anyway, I decided to reopen this blog as I was noticed how useful it can be to have a place to archive your bash scripts (alongside with easy to be found pretext) or even plain tips and tricks... Sure, there are already tons online How-Tos, and pages like stackowerflow, etc... but sometimes it just takes too much time to recall exactly which one was the site where you found this-and-that. Yes, sometimes even Google just fails it.

Enough talking for now, let us move to our next topic ;) An easy one for a new start.

Ever since I bought my first laptop there has always been a certain degree of chaos on my desk. Much more chaos that it would be necessary, to be more precise. Two mice, two keyboards (most likely not even cordless) and an unusual amount of textbooks, just to name a few items that took too much space. I think it is almost needless to say, how painful it is to switch between two keyboards when you want to transfer files, or copy a line of text from a document on computer A to computer B (or answer this or other notification you just got on Facebook tab opened on the other machine)...

Fortunately, there is a very simple solution to this - Synergy! It is a shame that so few people know about this wonderful piece of software.

Synergy lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, and it's Free and Open Source. Just move your mouse off the edge of one computer's screen on to another. You can even share all of your clipboards. All you need is a network connection. Synergy is cross-platform (works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux).
The best part of the story is, that all of your traffic is encrypted.

Usage of this program should be pretty straightforward, so I won't go into the details (but you can always ask for clarifications in the comments section). The only requirement is that both computers are connected to the same network. So, theoretically you could control an entire row of computers in this way with a single mouse.

On the machine where the keyboard and mouse are plugged in (usually desktop), all you have to do is to tick the Server checkbox (and write down its internal IP address). Next, you move to the target machine and tick the Client checkbox and enter the IP address from the previous step. That's it (if you don't forget to click on the start button in the lower right corner of the window)!

If your distribution does not include the latest version with GUI, you might need to modify the config file, but you can avoid this using the quicksynergy tool, which lets you to simply control synergy settings. Personally, I find it even more intuitive :)

Hint: In order to have the sharing set up from the very moment when the computer is up and running, you can add quicksynergy to startup applications.

If you use *nix, you might also want to set up SSH server (in case you use Ubuntu or its derivatives all you have to do is to type sudo apt-get install openssh-server) in order to enable easy-to-use file sharing between the two computers, but Windows users can also get past obstacles using the SMB protocol. But I will write more about this sometime later.