Using Barrier to control multiple computers regardless of operating system

I don’t often use multiple monitors at once, but when I do, I’m using multiple computers too. I’m mainly doing this to test websites on multiple operating systems as my desktop machine runs Linux Mint and my work laptop has Windows 10 on it. Of course I could use Virtualbox to run any number of operating systems, but having a separate device makes things a bit more simple for me. What I despise is using the laptop keyboard and the trackpad. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could use the desktop keyboard and mouse on the laptop too?



I knew I needed something like a KVM switch, that allows using the same keyboard and mouse on multiple computers. Historically this is a physical switch that had a dial on which you could switch between the computers. Of course with these you could also use just one monitor for the machines, but this is not something I need.

There is a software called Synergy that can do this, but it is a commercial non-free product that is overkill for my needs. There is an open-source alternative however called Barrier that does exactly what I need: Share the mouse and keyboard between computers, shared clipboard. Now I can drag the mouse from my Linux desktop right over to the Windows 10 laptop screen, copy some text and paste it into Linux.

Barrier screen layout configuration
The good
  • Supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux too
  • Not too complicated to configure
  • Supports clipboard sharing
The bad
  • The devices have to be connected to the same network. This is an inconvience for me as my desktop uses a wired connection, but my laptop is on wifi.
  • Not much else, it really does work 🙂

Installation

In Ubuntu this is pretty simple, just enter the following command into the terminal:

sudo apt install barrier

For other distributions you could try to compile from source or check out the distribution-specific packages on the project page.

For Windows and Mac, go to the official download page and download the latest stable version in .exe format for Windows and .dmg format for Mac.

The configuration itself is pretty straightforward, but if you need help, take a look at this video:


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