working with Multiplicity – nextgen multimonitoring


I tested Multiplicity like I promised some days ago. And I would like to show you the results. Because I tested the Trial-Version of Multiplicity I was unable to use it with more than two machines. In fact if I had the full version of Multiplicity I would also be unable to test it because the Mac OSX Version of Multiplicity is not ready… and there are only 3 machines in my Office.


So I took my main development machine and my notebook and installed Multiplicity. The notebook was client and the big-one was the server.


As you can see:



…there’s an overall of 3 displays after Multiplicity found the client machine (escaflowne). You can configure Multiplicity to append the clients to the left or right side of the servers’ physical displays (1,2). As I said: In the trial version only one client is allowed.



The Installation ran quick and without any problems but it failed to configure my Windows XP SP2 Firewall correctly. The problem is the following: by default Multiplicity configures the XP Firewall to only allow access to the Multiplicity network port within the same subnet. The machines I’ve tested on did not reside in the same subnet. So in the first attempt the machines were unable to talk to each other. After I manually configured the XP Firewall to grant access from other subnets it worked instantly.



Another curiosity with Multiplicity is the fact that it’s not the client that accesses the server. It’s the exact other way. You tell the server the name/IP of the client and there it goes. Confusing…


After this relatively small problem it worked just perfect. I used the servers keyboard+mouse to control the two machines without manual switching. Just move the mouse to the screen you want to write or click.. and voilá.



The only problem I had was caused by different mouse-speed and acceleration settings in the two Windows XPs. This is surely something that needs to be fixed. But when you got the correct settings it works perfect. I was even able to play games with the “virtually switched” keyboard+mouse… and I did not notice any lag or something.


But anyway. This tool is just breathtaking. After some hours of use you’re asking yourself why this wasn’t available ealier. I am surely going to buy Multiplicity because it’s not only simplifying my work but also helped me to gain more space on my desk. Because one keyboard+mouse is gone… and as soon as the OSX version is available… even more space would be freed on my desk. Well let me think about the things I can buy now to use the space…hmmm


In the comments of the last article about Multiplicity Uwe Husmann told us that there’s a similar tool available which is called “Synergy2“:


“Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).


Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.”


So as you can see Synergy2 does quite the same but it’s available for more operating systems (Windows, Unices, MacOSX). I did not test it for myself, but mape2k and nornagest tested it yesterday. Well and they liked it a lot. It seemed to work without any problem.



(WARNING) Synergy2 is GPL. 😉


Source 1: Multiplicity Homepage
Source 2: Multiplicity – taking the multiple displays idea to the next level
Source 3: http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/index.html

  1. #1 by sven on April 15, 2005 - 13:19

    “After some hours of use you’re asking yourself why this wasn’t available ealier”

    As you said at the end of the article – it was available earlier in the form of synergy. But perhaps it is the same as it was with SIP and Skype – if it is a open protocol or even open source nobody installs it. But if it’s proprietary, everybody uses it (as seen with the success of Skype).

  2. #2 by Bietiekay on April 15, 2005 - 14:26

    Well I don’t think that it’s a question of open standard or proprietarity. I think that you and me are old enough to decide for ourselves what we want to use – And in the SIP case: SIP just does not work out of the box in NAT environments. NAT is evil and black magic but I really think the major breakthrough cause for skype was that it just worked out of the box however your network “looked like”…

    And the point with Multiplicity is that I know Stardock for a while now – and they came up with this cool thing. I never even thought about something similar. So I never searched for it. Certainly I would have found Synergy2 earlier.

    And now Iam using what’s working and doing the job best. And synergy2 does not fully work on OSX… but I really need this feature. So I am looking forward to the Multiplicity Mac OSX client.

  3. #3 by Nornagest on April 19, 2005 - 05:54

    Just one short addition:
    Synergy has one problem with games, I’m not sure how Multiplicity solves this.
    It works without problems in Diablo 2 e.g., where you use your mouse just like on your desktop (clicking at some point on the screen), but it doesn’t work in egoshooters and situations where the cursor is kept in the center of the screen (moving the camera in a RPG e.g.) as far as I have tested.

  4. #4 by Apple Notebook on September 17, 2008 - 16:34

    Of course it does not work with 1st person shooters. Just imagine playing Quake or CounterStrike on two monitors. What would be the point because you can barely keep touch with one monitor while playing… Two would actually create havoc in your perception system.

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