Blog du Tristank

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Actual Desktops, not Virtual Ones

I spent a small chunk of today setting up my new secondary work machine – my plan is to run Virtual PC on it, and use it as my main test box.

I have an LCD monitor that does VGA and DVI inputs. I can switch between them at the push of a button. Unfortunately, the mouse and keyboard don’t follow the screen.

The keyboard is PS2. The mouse is USB, strung off an extension cable and unpowered hub. So far, so good. The KVM I have doesn’t do USB. Not so good. It also doesn’t do DVI, and bluntly, after using DVI for a while, there is no way I am going back to analog signals.

What I wanted to be able to do was to mouse from my regular desktop, either hit a key (KVM style) or mouse to the edge of the desktop, then have the screen change to the next PC, and be able to use the same mouse, keyboard and monitor. I’m aware of KVMs that exist purport to do this “for a small fraction of the cost of a second keyboard, mouse and monitor” but I’m more interested in the zero dollar options.

After looking at most of what was available on the web, I’m back to RDP. At the moment, I’ve configured a shortcut hot key to quickly open a window to the target machine, but I’ve got my heart set on “mouseability” now too. No-keyboard-touch switching between views.

So after work, I spent another reasonable chunk of my evening trying to “whip something up” using VS2003 and the MSRDPClient object. It’s kinda-sort-of-not-really-more-or-less working, but so far it’s a little too clunky to actually be able to use. For anything. Ever.

But it’s fun to try.