In Praise of Synergy

I wanted to pen (sic) a few words today in praise of a piece of OSS software I use a lot:

For anyone using more than one machine in their day-to-day efforts of churning bytes into software, this is Good Stuff ™.

In a nutshell, it lets you take a single keyboard and mouse-like-thing (in my case, a Kensington trackball) and “share” them across multiple boxen, but with a twist: It also lets you associate the monitors of several boxen together to make the collective set look like one big system.

For instance: I sit here in front of (or more like “within”) six monitors, of various types and resolutions. I have my one keyboard (a genuine antique IBM model M of which I am inordinately proud) and trackball, and can take my cursor with a flick of the wrist from my MacBook Pro’s built-in monitor on the left and whisk it across the two monitors of my Sun Ultra40 in the middle to stop on the X11 window of the SuSE machine on my far right! I can then use the browser on the SuSE box to look something up, copy a URL, whip it back to the right-hand monitor of my Mac and paste it in. This is cool, especially once you get used to it.

At first it threatens to make your head explode, especially when you try to drag a window from OS X to Solaris (which it can’t do), until it becomes second nature.

Not without it’s minor bugs, it crashes once in a long while – but that just serves to highlight how dependent on it I am, as I sit there stunned for a moment hammering my mouse cursor on the left side of the Sun’s monitor wondering why it won’t move to the next system icon smile In Praise of Synergy

If you’re more adventurous than I you can even “stack” monitors veritically ( like this) until you’re surrounded even further, ala the Lawnmower Man, perhaps.

Good stuff – I recommend it.