February 07, 2005
Leveraging Computing Resources with Synergy
I recently found a cool piece of software called Synergy. The program can be used to significantly expand the physical power and size of your computing environment.
Synergy is basically a software KVM (keyboard/video/mouse switcher) that allows a desktop environment to be expanded and shared across multiple computers - one keyboard and mouse can be used to control multiple computers. It is free, open source, cross-platform and supports all the operating systems represented by this group.
This software performs a similar function to VNC. Only, instead of streaming the video to the computer you are working on, synergy simply sends mouse and keyboard inputs to the remote computer and displays it on that computer's display. So obviously, Synergy doesn't suffer from the "lag" that makes VNC drag at times.
I am currently using Synergy to add a Windows computer to my Linux environment. I have my Windows laptop LCD sitting next to my Linux monitors, and when I move the mouse off the side of the Linux monitor, the cursor automatically starts moving on the laptop. I can do everything on the laptop as if I were actually interacting with its keyboard and touchpad. Synergy even allows me to cut and paste between these different environments.
For several years, I have been using VMware to run those critical applications that don't run in Linux (SQL*LIMS and Groove). I am considering replacing what I've been using VMware for with this configuration. This spreads my computing tasks over 6 GHz of CPU and 2 gigabytes of RAM, giving me another 1,920,000 pixels of desktop real estate (making my total desktop resolution 6400x1200:)
Note that synergy supports OS X, so those of us using Macs can benefit from a single point of contact to a mixed Mac and Windows environment.
But even for those of us who exclusively use Windows, possible applications for Synergy still exist. We all have more than one computer (i.e. a laptop and desktop/portable server). Synergy can be used to expand the use we get from these computers for the same reasons listed above - namely more computing power and a larger environment.
I could ramble for hours about the benefits of increased desktop space, but for now I will offer only one example: consider the document review tasks we've been doing recently. It is awesome to be able to have the document being reviewed (OQ), a comments document, and the application where document steps are performed (SQL*LIMS) all open and visible simultaneously. There is no need to repetitively switch back and forth between documents and the application.
In the short time I've used Synergy, I have nothing bad to say about it. It is one more small advance in my never-ending search for the ultimate computing environment. Synergy allows the software developer or power computer user to better leverage their computing resources and add more power and real estate to their desktop environment.
Posted by Rob Sullivan at February 7, 2005 09:41 AM
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Tracked on June 29, 2005 09:43 AM