A cool, free tool that you may very well find amazingly useful.
It’s called Synergy and what Synergy does is allow you to share one keyboard and mouse across many computers. But it’s not just a software KVM, Synergy makes switching to and controlling other computers feel a bit like a single computer with dual screens. Let’s say I have a desktop and laptop computer. I can put my laptop next to my desktop’s monitor, configure Synergy on both machines, and then simply move my mouse off the left of my desktop’s monitor and magically the cursor appears on my laptop screen. I can now run whatever applications I want on my laptop, then simply move the mouse cursor off the right of the laptop screen and I’m back on my desktop.
This is not a remote desktop program like VNC. You do not see a mirror of the desktop on the remote system. Instead you are controlling the remote system directly. This means whatever system(s) you’re controlling with Synergy will (typically) need to be within sight.
I use Synergy in a laptop/desktop environment like the example given above. I already have two monitors plugged into my desktop. Now I have my laptop as well for a total of three screens. I can use the laptop to handle simple tasks that don’t require constant attention such as monitoring e-mail, server status, etc., while I use my desktop screens to work on my current project. I also intend to bring an old Macbook back to life and add it to my configuration. In this way I’ll be able to test page development on a Mac without having bother moving over to the tiny Macbook keyboard and oddly-sensitive touch pad. Rather, I can use the keyboard and mouse I’m already quite comfortable with.
Maybe that sounds a bit lazy, but it sounds damn cool to me. Perhaps I’ll find another laptop, maybe a netbook or two, and wind up with an array of 6 or 10 screens surrounding me in my cube, each doing… something (just looking cool I suspect).
So if you’ve got a laptop and a desktop or a couple of desktops (maybe a homebrew HTPC) I’d say give Synergy a go. It’s very cool.
One small note:
Synergy has no encryption or authentication mechanism. Don’t use this over the internet or even your home wireless network unless you take some extra precautions, such as using SSH tunneling to encrypt the connection for you.