3 Computers, 1 Keyboard 1 Mouse?!
May 11, 2007 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I have a system that uses 3 computers, which are all talking to each other. I need to be able to use one keyboard and one mouse to control all three at the same time. Does anyone know of a reliable device?
posted by matthelm to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are all three computers physically near to one another? If so, you could probably pick up any KVM you like.
posted by cortex at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2007

Yes, they are all next to eahc other, but they all have their own monitors...so it looks like the KVM might not work for it says that it works with one monitor...
posted by matthelm at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2007

It'll work. Just don't plug your three monitors into the switch.
posted by box at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2007

I have pretty much the same thing happening myself, and I'm still trying to figure out a way to work it out neatly.

So far, the best (only) solution I have been able to come up with is using Remote Desktop or UltraVNC to remotely control the computers that do not have a keyboard and mouse attached. It's not ideal (I still need to keep a spare keyboard around to enter my username and password in the login screen, etc) but it seems to do the trick most of the time.

I haven't had time to test it yet, but it seems like the open-source app Sinergy could be a more elegant solution to this problem. If you take it for a test-drive, can you post your impressions here? I'll be happily watching this thread. :)
posted by doctorpiorno at 9:39 AM on May 11, 2007

I've done this before with Synergy - cross-platform, not too painful to set up, and you can't beat the price. You literally just slide the mouse from one screen to another.
posted by wanderingmind at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2007

Synergy seems to be exactly what you are looking for, if the devices are all networked.
posted by zabuni at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2007

Ack! Beaten!
posted by zabuni at 9:41 AM on May 11, 2007

Fourthing Synergy. I've used it extensively and it's always worked perfectly for me - doctorpiorno, you should definitely give it a shot.
posted by pocams at 9:47 AM on May 11, 2007

VNC works, but sometimes you have to be directly connected. For example, my Unix bastion machine won't boot unless it gets a newline character from the keyboard at just the right time. I know I could reconfigure it to do autoboots, but I like knowing that I can control when it boots. Also, I only have to reboot that machine once a year or so, and I forget to do the reconfiguration until the next time I need to reboot it.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 9:48 AM on May 11, 2007

Fifthing Synergy, if it works in your situation. I started using it at work, and have converted about 10 coworkers to use it.
posted by bxg at 10:06 AM on May 11, 2007

Synergy is good, and it's cross-platform. Personally, though, I use Multiplicity, a program from Stardock. It's substantially more reliable for me, and the premium version lets you copy files from one computer to the other using the clipboard, which is really, really nice.
posted by JDHarper at 10:10 AM on May 11, 2007

Seventhing synergy, which I have used happily in the past. Great app, and you can't beat the price!
posted by Joh at 10:49 AM on May 11, 2007

This episode of Hak.5 has a tutorial on setting up Synergy.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:50 AM on May 11, 2007

Another recommendation for Synergy: it's fantastic. Totally recommend it - don't think I could survive work without it.
posted by Mave_80 at 10:50 AM on May 11, 2007

Another vote for Synergy. I just set it up for my boss yesterday , so he just hits a button on his monitor to switch between his Windows desktop and Mac Book Pro, and uses the same keyboard/mouse. He loves it.
posted by niles at 11:15 AM on May 11, 2007

Synergy > cookies.
posted by Industrial PhD at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2007

The only caveat with Synergy is that you will want to run the server on the least loaded of the machines. When it competes for cycles against, say, massive compiles, performance gets sluggish.
posted by dws at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2007

If you're planning on using Synergy with a Mac, you'll want to get this GUI to go along with it.
posted by stefanie at 2:05 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Synergy. It's one of those "How did I ever live without it!!!" sorta thing. I also have converted many at work to use it. They all say "Where did you find this? This is awesome!"
posted by BillsR100 at 4:35 PM on May 11, 2007

We currently have 3 systems set up using a KVM switch. All three have their own monitors, but share keyboard and mouse functions. I should not that this is helpful especially when working across platforms - we have one Windows XP, one Mac OSX and one Debian Linux/GNOME machine sharing the switch at the current time.
posted by DecemberRaine at 5:34 PM on May 11, 2007

If all of these machines are running X, I've found 'x2x' to be a better solution than synergy.
posted by xiojason at 9:32 PM on May 11, 2007

If you're running OSX on all 3 systems, Teleport, hands down, beats absolutely EVERYTHING. It's the easiest (all you have to do is install a Preference Pane on each machine), most elegant way to control multiple machines with one keyboard and mouse. It even shares Clipboard data among all the machines. And it's free.

It's really a miraculous thing, being able to drag your mouse curosor off the side of one monitor, and then instantly appearing on the monitor of the system next to it, as if it were just another monitor on a single system. Absolutely brilliant.

Since discovering Teleport, I've had zero need for my KVM, because Teleport works better than an overpriced KVM.
posted by melorama at 1:07 AM on May 12, 2007

Synergy shares clipboards too, BTW. It's somewhat unreliable on Windows, however (as in, clipboard sharing just stops working randomly; anyone with a bit of C++/Win32 experience fancy having a look at it?).

I've not seen anything to suggest Synergy causes any significant load on any computer made in the past decade, and it's very configurable; if you want to switch systems with a button, you can do that, if you want to move the mouse out of one display and into another, you can do that, if you want it to take some "pressure" or a few taps to switch, you can do that too.
posted by Freaky at 7:56 AM on May 12, 2007

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