Orhan Karsligil's Ideas, Thoughts and Collection of Resources

Software I want: I

Okay, I have to use more than one computer at the same time most of the time. I do not want to use two keyboards two mouses etc. Yes there are hardware KVM switches that let you use multiple machines from one set of monitor, keyboard and mouse, but you still have to switch from one machine to another.

Over the years I started first with KVM switches, then I started using VNC or RDP (Microsoft Remote Desktop) to eleminate the need for extra hardware (and the other machines I use sometimes are not under my desk but far far away). Last year when I was writing some test plans I needed two displays. One for the application I was writing test plans for and one for the document. ALT+TABing was very ineffient. My work machine is an IBM Thinkpad A22. It is kind of an old machine. When you attach an external monitor to newer laptops you can display separate things on the Laptop screen and the extra monitor.. unfortunatelly A22's graphic card cannot handle such a task. So I had to give up the extra monitor but I needed more desktop real estate. So I went to the junk yard (in the office) and grabbed an even older A20. I put a basic WinXP instance on it and started looking for a way to use its screen as an extention to mine.. After googling for an hour I found Maxivista. It is a server/client software. The server part sits on my machine and the Viewer part sits on the A20. When you enable it the A20s screen becomes a second monitor on your machine. It works very nicely over the network connection. You can decide geographically where you want to put the extra screen relative to your screen and then when you move the mouse accross yours it enters the other screen. You can grab and move windows to the other screen or you can open a very large window to cover both screens (useful if you have to draw very large diagrams on Visio). So that solved some of my problems. Actually it is possible to extend the screen upto 4 machines using this software.

When I started thinking that I have finally a good solution for my problems I needed to VPN to a remote site and do some database work. My machine did not have the software and I could not install it on my machine since it was conflicting with other software. So I had to use another machine. I found the machine (another A22) but did not have space on my desk to put it. I had to put it in a folder holder behind my own A22. Of course I could not use the keyboard or the mouse stick on it. So when I was going to get a KVM switch I decided to do another Google search. After 15 minutes I found what I was looking for: A software KVM, and a free one...Synergy. It is also a client/server app. I installed the server on my machine and the client on the other A22. I configured the application with the geographic location of my machine. When I started it I had my solution...When I move the mouse up behind my own screen I moves into the other A22 with the VPN and database sofware, if I move it to the left it goes to the A20 to the left of my machine.

So know I have 3 laptops sitting on my desk. One is an extention to my screen (I do not use its CPU cycle, just the screen) and the other one is an extra CPU with its own desktop. Works very nicely.

Now what I really need is something like X in Unix, but more flexible:
-1 or more screens sharing the same desktop (like a very large screen)
-1 or more CPUs (boxes) should be running the applications on this screen. I should be able to decide where to run the application (both where on the screen and on which CPU)
-Only 1 set of keyboard and mouse.
-It should be a cross OS platform (A new virtual desktop running on Windows, Linux etc) Of course Windows apps will only run on Windows CPUs and Linux apps on Linux CPUs but both will show up on the same desktop. (Cygwin does this partially)

All the pieces are out there: Cygwin, Synergy, Maxivista etc. Someone has to bring them together. The solution would be like having a cluster on every desk. Can someone create something like that for me please????


Anonymous said...

New Maxivista v2 does offer Synergy functionality! So, two functions in one program are already accomplished.


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