A sea of screens

I’ve increased my screens to 4, all 24″ full HD things. I had 4 when I was at work, but not as large. This all came about because my main system, a 15″ MacBook was always at a poor angle. Laptops, after all are not intended to be day to day workstations.

A screen for the Mac was followed by an Apple keyboard – Apple old stock (but new) so it has all the relevant keys.

Having two screens on the Linux box already and those on a rather useful dual monitor stand it made sense to have a similar monitor stand for the new Mac screen (I say Mac screen, it’s LG not Apple. I’m not so daft as to spend a fortune on a screen!) but the screen on my Windows PC did not have a VESA mount. So, another LG screen followed…

I ended up then with a Windows PC, the MacBook (now with its screen closed and pushed out of the way), and the Linux PC spread across the desk. Three keyboards. Three mice.

Enter a program called Barrier… easy to set up, the Mac is now the master and the Mac keyboard and mouse can control all three systems by moving the mouse to the relevant screen.

No pics – the place is a tip. The next step is to make a platform for the monitor stands, move the PCs to under the desk, and set up the radios and stuff under that platform. Then everything is finally in front of me. Then I will post a pic…

There are a few issues to sort. First, the Linux key mappings do not fully like the Mac keyboard, so I have yet to enable characters like ‘|’, ‘`’, ‘\’ and some others – sadly some of the most used characters in Linux! For Windows, there’s no Windows key but that is no great loss. And anyway the keyboards and mice attached to the PCs still function. The other issue is for Linux Barrier cannot control the PC until the window manager is loaded, meaning I need to log in first. I can set it up so it does not require a login but that’s not really me with my background… Windows, being all window GUI works just fine on startup.

It probably goes without saying that you cannot drag windows between the systems (I can see Windows having a fit!) but the copypaste buffer works which is nice.

There are a few minor niggles, such as on some websites on the Mac the highlighting ‘trembles’ when moving the mouse up and down on one of the other systems. It happens rarely and isn’t an issue for me. The other thing is it is easy to completely loose the mouse! I have not yet investigated the hotkeys one can set up so there may be some help there…



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