Synergy Review – Multi-platform Software KVM

Synergy

Synergy is a Free (as in speech) Open Source software KVM switch for keyboard and mouse. I went looking for a replacement for the old Windows only software I had used previously and Synergy seemed to fit the bill. After looking around the their website (http://www.synergy-project.org), I decided to give it a go.

Price: $10 USD

Considering the cost of an additional keyboard and mouse, plus the added desk space and inconvenience of swapping between input devices, this price point is dead-on. If it had been higher, I may not have given it a chance. For the features it adds in addition to the convenience factor it’s a steal.

Features:

  • Works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • Share one keyboard and mouse between up to 15 computers (more is technically possible, but c’mon, 15 computers at one desk seems like a stretch)
  • Share clipboard contents between each of the computers
  • Drag and Drop files between Windows and OS X (Linux in the future, I hope?)
  • Encryption to keep things secure

Installation:

This was a complete breeze to install and configure on both systems I currently have this installed on (Windows and Mint 17). For Windows it’s a standard EXE installer and for Mint it was a simple download and install of the x64 .Deb. Absolutely hassle-free.

Configuration:

The configuration was the only area I had a slight hiccup, but it turned out it was my lack of understanding and no fault of the program itself. Initially I had a hard time getting the Client system (my Linux box) to connect successfully to the Server (my Windows box). I had added the client system name to the server, but didn’t realize that I had to click “Apply” in the main Synergy window beneath the “Configure Server” window. I was getting the following:

WARNING: failed to connect to server: server refused client with our name

After clicking on the “Apply” button everything started working correctly.

Workflow:

The actual use of the program itself is dead simple. Synergy enables your normal shortcuts for copy & paste to work across systems. One sticking point I have is that I really would like files to be copy-paste-able between Linux and Windows. I’ve got a workaround for it, but it’d be ideal to have that for Linux boxes and not only for Windows / Mac. I’m unsure if there is a technical hurdle to this or just low demand for it at this point, but I’ll voice my hopes that it’s a feature coming soon.

Final thoughts:

I’m extremely pleased with Synergy so far. The $10 USD price for it includes lifetime updates and support. I like my software free, but to me, this application is worth every penny at this price point.

I’m giving Synergy a big thumbs-up. It has helped me streamline my work between machines.

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