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I've never used (or even seen) a KVM switch before, but feel it might be the solution to my problem.

I have two PCs: one is a Windows XP box, the other is a Linux (Ubuntu) box. For reasons outside the context of this question, I have to keep these two computers separate (can't use VMs). Each machine consists of a tower and a monitor.

I would like to have a setup where both monitors are right next to each other, and at any given time I can:

  1. Be viewing a dual-monitor setup while using the Windows machine; or
  2. Be viewing a dual-monitor setup while using the Linux machinel or
  3. Have both machines on, with one monitor viewing the Windows machine, and the other monitor viewing the Linux machine

It would be awful to have to keep swapping cables every time I want to change my monitor setup: can a KVM suit my needs? I love having a dual monitor but never know what machine I'll be needing to use at any given time, and might even be using both at the same time.

Obviously, the mouse/keyboard input would need to switch in keeping with the monitor, however that presents a problem under scenario #3 above where I'm viewing both at the same time... Since I no nothing about KVMs I'll wait to see what the SU community thinks before making any decisions about the mouse & keyboard.

Thanks for any help!

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Here is a LINK to how is the usual KVM Switch hooked up. – Darius Jun 6 '11 at 16:24
An example of what you might be interested in found on NewEgg Although you might want to have DVI instead of VGA and USB ports as well. – Darius Jun 6 '11 at 16:34

KVM is designed exactly for that, and there are newer ones that will let you use dual monitors. What I am not sure they will let you do, and I have my doubts about, is have one screen of each computer.

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Here is a non-KVM approach that works if your monitors have two inputs (1 VGA and 1 DVI is common. I have 2 DVI on my monitors) and are using USB keyboard/mouse.

Connect computer 1 to input 1 on each monitor and computer 2 to input 2 on each monitor. Use the front panel switches on the monitor to select which computer is displayed on the monitor.

Connect the keyboard and mouse to a USB hub. Connect the common input of a USB switch (like this) to the hub and each computer to the switch's inputs.

The downside is you have to use three switches to change between computers. But it is much cheaper than the Dual DVI KVMs I've seen.

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I'm not sure that a KVM will do what you're looking for your #3, since you only have one keyboard/mouse and it wouldn't make sense to share it.

You can opt for a dual-monitor KVM set up, which will handle #1 and #2 though. For #3, you'll probably need some sort of remote desktop access, which might be good enough.

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