Synergy2 .. why don’t you have it??

Ok, let me explain first what it is.. Synerygy2 is a way to share multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse.  No, it’s not a KVM replacement.. Synergy2 replaces only the keyboard and mouse, you’ll need to have a monitor attached to each machine on your desk.  This is actually a plus.  In the photo below you’ll see my working area at the office… I’ve labelled which each runs for an OS and below that the names of the computers (click to see the full size image)

office-desktop

The keyboard and mouse is actually attached to the Ubuntu machine, in other words that’s the “server”.  The XP and Windows 7 machines are “clients”.  One thing to consider with Synergy is that it’s not secure.  It does send everything you type in plain text over the network.  This can be avoided by tunnelling the connection over something like SSH.  Perhaps I’ll cover that later.  Synergy2 isn’t new, it’s been around a very long time.

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel or try to take any limelight from those that have already posted great articles on how to set it up, the best information can be found from the Synergy2 website itself.

What I’m posting about is really how to fix a problem that I’m sure others might have encountered.  Right.. so the problem is this.  As I’ve said, the server is on Ubuntu.  Naturally the “Windows key” on Ubuntu has no natural meaning to the OS, it’s just another key and not mapped to anything out of the box.  The problem I’ve had is that while using Synergy the “Windows Key” didn’t work on the Ubuntu machine even though I’d remapped it to do things, such as Win + T to open a new xterm, Win + R to open the Run Command Dialog (basically making it operate a bit like Windows).   the fix for this was a change in the $HOME/.synergy.ini file on the Ubuntu machine.  The weird thing was that when move the mouse to the XP machine the Windows key did what it should, however on the Windows 7 it wouldn’t work.

Right, so what was the fix?  Here is my .synergy.ini file

section: screens
burma:
scotland:
  meta = super
rambler:
  meta = super
end

section: links
burma:
left = scotland
right = rambler
scotland:
right = burma
left = rambler
rambler:
left = burma
right = scotland
end

section: options
screenSaverSync = true
end


The important lines above are the “meta = super”.  Under Ubuntu the Windows Key is called “meta”.  This tells Synergy when the focus is on the windows machines to map the “meta” key to the “super” key, or in other words the Windows key.  Once that was changed and synergys was restarted all was good again.

I’m posting this for anyone else that might have a problem with the windows key not working under synergy with Linux/Ubuntu/Unix machines and windows machines, but also as a reminder to myself should I forget how I fixed it :)  I’d been through this exercise about 4 years ago but having rebuilt that machine I couldn’t for the life of me recall how I fixed it .. well, now that I’ve blogged about it I’ll at least have one good place to go and find the answer again :) 


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