When I’m working in my home office, I typically have my Windows XP laptop on the left hand side of my desk next the rest of my monitors. I’ve always wanted to control the laptop from my main keyboard and mouse without having to hook up a keyboard switch. I find the hardware solution annoying when you are trying to work on both machines essentially at once or when you just want to pick up your laptop and sit somewhere else (lazy I know). When I drag my mouse off the left side of my Linux Desktop I want to control my laptop. When I drag my cursor off the right side of my laptop screen I want to resume working with my Linux Desktop. Essentially I want to seamlessly make my Windows XP Desktop part of my Linux Desktop.
There is an open source project called Synergy that functions exactly this way over your TCP/IP network. The program redirects the mouse and keyboard as you move the mouse off the edge of a screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards on each system into one, allowing you to copy-and-paste between systems. Handy for copying stuff out of e-mail!
Like all good open source projects the program works on any combination of Linux, Windows XP and MAC OS X 10.2 and higher.
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I recently upgraded the memory in one of my home workstations to 4 gigs. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run a 64-bit OS on this AMD64 system and decided to refresh the entire machine to take full advantage of the memory upgrade. I decided to go with the latest 64-bit Ubuntu Linux distribution codenamed Intrepid Ibex (8.10) as my base OS. As I put this upgraded machine through its paces, I’m a bit amazed at what the machine is now capable of.
Because of the development, conversion and simulation work that I do, I tend to demand a lot from my computers. My workstation runs at least one virtual operating system in VMware server as well as the work I do on the host OS. There are times when the virtual OS and the host OS are really crunching away that things slow to a crawl…..that’s being kind. The computer is essentially unusable for day to day activities like e-mail and web browsing.
I intentionally tried to crush the machine I upgraded by running VMware server with two Windows virtual machines that had CPU intensive tasks. While that was going on I did normal things like surfing with Firefox, writing an e-mail and remote connecting to other systems. I didn’t see any lag or slowdown from the UI. Everything is very smooth and I’ve become a believer!
I admit that 64-bit operating systems may not be practical for simple desktop use at this point. Not all applications run on 64-bit systems, but you can run 32 bit virtual operating systems within a 64 bit host system.
If you think today’s computers are fast, wait until they have a 64-bit OS! It isn’t about megahertz anymore — it’s about actually doubling the amount of data a CPU can crunch per clock cycle. I’ve concluded that a 64-bit chip and a 64-bit OS does have the power to dramatically improve the performance of your more demanding applications. It revolutionizes what a single workstation can do.
I’ve listed a couple of solutions to some hassles I ran into in my setup: