Using Linux for its strengths – stability and efficiency – can cost you in productivity switching between systems to get your work done. Until now. I recently ran across a neat piece of open source software that allows you to experience the best of both worlds right at your fingertips – it’s called Synergy. This dynamite little application allows you to access both Linux and Windows using one keyboard and mouse and dedicated monitor for each. To me, this is as good or even better, than using virtual machine, such as VM VirtualBox because it allows you to be in dedicated mode for both.
When I stumbled upon this application, I thought I was in seventh heaven. The concept was brilliant. But with the accolades, came some trial and error trying to get it working properly. So I made this quick tutorial in hopes of helping others trying to get this same configuration to work [Linux Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick and Windows 7]. This tutorial also assumes the configuration of Synergy with Linux acting as the server and Windows the client.
Step 1. Download and install the most recent version of Synergy for Linux.
Note: you will need to find out which version of the operating system you are running 32 bit or 64 bit – here’s how you determine which version you need for Linux.
Step 2. Now, we need to gather some information for use in step #6. Get the host name for Linux – simply type in the command
hostname in the Terminal window as illustrated below [click image to enlarge].
Step 3. Get the IP address of the Linux machine by typing the command
ifconfig as illustrated below [click image to enlarge].
Step 4. Get the host name for Windows – Start>Computer>System Properties as illustrated below [click image to enlarge].
Step 5. Get the IP address for Windows – Start>Accessories>Command Prompt as illustrated below [click image to enlarge].
Step 6. Create a configuration file through gedit, to allow Synergy to run on the Linux machine.
Open a terminal window and type the following command:
sudo gedit /home/username/.synergy.conf. You will change “username” to the User Name of the computer.
Step 7. Now, let’s throw some code into the synergy.conf to configure the server and client.
Step 8. Add the following code to specify physical layout of the monitors. In my case the monitor for Linux is on the left, and Windows on the right.
right = hostnameOfWindows
left = hostnameOfLinux
Step 9. Download and install the most recent version of Synergy for Windows.
Note: you will need to find out which version of the operating system you are running 32 bit or 64 bit – here’s how you determine which version you need for Windows.
Step 10. Install and configure the Windows Client as illustrated below [click image to enlarge].
For one reason or another, you may experience the application no longer works. All you need to do is kill Synergy
killall synergys and then start an instance using
You should now be able to connect Linux and be well on your way of enjoying the ability to seamlessly navigate Linux and Windows through Synergy. The end result is an increased level of productivity, accessing Windows only when you need:), and subsequently enjoying your Linux environment even more!
I hope this post helps you if you are struggling getting this wonderful app to work with your Linux and Windows environment. As you can see from my desk to the left [click image to enlarge], using Synergy promotes an uncluttered, streamlined look and feel – my Linux machine is on the left, and the Windows on the right. I can move from Linux to Windows and back again, with a flick of the mouse — very cool application, give it a try. Please leave comments if you have anything to share about this application.