Thursday, March 23, 2006


Extended Desktop

For the first time, I have a two-monitor setup on my main desktop machine at work. This means I have two monitors side-by-side, and the computer treats them as one wide desktop. I can move the mouse from one to the other just by, well, moving the mouse from one to the other.

This works well. I typically have my software-development application running full-screen on one monitor, and then the other monitor has the miscellaneous e-mail, IM, web browser, and other little windows I need. It helps me maintain my focus on my work, as I don't look at the other monitor while I'm coding, and I don't need to hide or shuffle windows to get things out of the way.

I have two other computers on my desk, and I find myself unconsciously trying to move the mouse over to those other screens. It would be really nice if this would actually work: I could use just one keyboard and mouse instead of the three that I currently need. It would also be cool if I could pick up a file on one machine and then just drag-and-drop it over to another computer's monitor to transfer the file.

Extending this idea even further, it would be nice if all four monitors on my desktop were connected in one big clustered desktop. I could launch an application on my test machine, then drag its window over to my development machine so that it was displayed right next to the debugger window. Then I wouldn't have to keep flicking my head from side to side while doing remote debugging.

I don't know if there are already any implementations of this kind of functionality. If not, I may try to implement it myself some day (in my copious free time). It would probably be relatively easy with the X Window System, which is designed to operate over a network, but all my work machines are running Windows.

Try Multiplicity or Synergy. They're two programs that can do exactly that!
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