Multiple Monitors and Remote Keyboard

At work, they have been buying all the programmers new monitors. Everybody now has at least one 20″ LCD. Some people have two. The rest of us could have two monitors, one maybe smaller, if there wasn’t a shortage of dual-head video cards. I decided to hook up the second smaller monitor up to my MacBook.

The Mac is very good at handling multiple displays. It detected the monitor when it was plugged in. It didn’t get the resolution correct but that was easy to change. The menu bar handling is annoying; one display is the primary one with the menu bar and dock. The other can just have windows where it is hard to use the menu. Also, some programs get confused about the resizing; it would be nice if windows recgonized that they were touching a side and stayed that way. If the menu bar was moved to the monitor, then the computer would stay active with the lid closed.

Somebody pointed me toward Synergy which allows sharing keyboard and mouse over the network. The machine that has the keyboard and mouse (in this case my work desktop) runs the server. Other machines run the client and connect to the server. Each machine has to have a text configuration file. Once it is working, it is smooth to move the mouse off the side of the screen and onto the other screen. The keyboard follows the mouse. Also, it connects the clipboards. It isn’t possible to drag windows between screens.

The only problem is that the key bindings are different between Mac and Linux. The Mac uses the Option key (mapped to Alt) where Linux uses Ctrl. The clipboard commands are especially confusing since Gnome Terminal is also different. I have gotten used to the different key bindings when switching between the laptop and desktop but it helps that the laptop keyboard is different.