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I have a PC and bought a Mac Mini recently. I am thinking of sharing my keyboard, mouse and the 24" Dell monitor between the PC and Mac Mini. What would be the better solution for me?

  1. KVM
    Sounds great, which one to choose and what do I have to be careful about?

  2. Software solution
    What would be the disadvantages?

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3 Answers 3

I use a program called "Synergy" which is free/open source software. It works on Linux, Mac and Windows and allows easy sharing of one keyboard / mouse between multiple computers.

Caveats are that it gets a little 'wonky' at times and needs to be re-started, but that doesn't happen often.

It frees up QUITE a bit of space on your desk and is easy to set up. If using Linux (now or in the future) also look for the 'quicksynergy' package to simplify the setup.

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As I understand, Synergy requires that each computer has a monitor. But I just have one and would like to keep it that way. –  orunner Feb 27 '11 at 0:04
    
It is possible to use Synergy with only one monitor, I often do that on my own. In the configuration dialog, you only need to position the PC's. For example, you can put your mac on the right and the pc on the left, in that case you would leave the screen (on the pc) on the right with your mouse and it will re-appear on the left of the mac desktop after you switched the monitor input. –  Michael K Dec 20 '11 at 8:38

I use VNC, a software solution. There are many different VNC servers and VNC viewers for Windows, Mac, and Linux that all work well with each other.

Often I use "UltraVNC viewer" on a Windows laptop to display the "screen" of a Xvnc server on Fedora on a headless server in another state. (I pipe the VNC data through PuTTY for security -- alas, this adds even more latency between clicking a button to seeing the result on my screen).

VNC advantages over hardware: I don't need to stretch keyboard, mouse, and screen extension cables from that server in another state to my desk. It works with laptops.

KVM hardware switch advantages over software: instant switching from one machine to the other; it's possible to read all the BIOS messages as it boots up and change BIOS settings; the lag from clicking on a button to seeing the result on-screen is pretty much instantaneous.

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If you have:

  1. A monitor with two (or more) inputs
  2. USB keyboard and mouse

You can connect one computer to each monitor input and use the front panel button on the monitor to switch between computers. Then use a USB switch (IOGEAR and Belkin both make 2 and 4 input models) to switch the keyboard/mouse.

It is a little 'clunky' but much cheaper than KVM solutions I've seen.

I have 4 computers connected this way to Dell 2408 monitors (2 DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort) with an IOGEAR GUB 431 switch.

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