Free-Synergy-Alternative-1

Share Mouse and Keyboard Between 2 PCs For Free

Are you looking for a FREE Synergy alternative to share mouse and keyboard between computers for free running Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD? I have great news for you!

Introducing Barrier – a free, open-source KVM software that does one thing and does it well: it allows you to share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers running on various operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD. Clipboard sharing is also supported, meaning you can copy/paste between machines using your mouse or keyboard. 

Barrier was forked from Synergy 1.9 codebase developed by Symless – a commercial reimplementation of CosmoSynergy created by Richard Lee and Adam Feder back in 1996.

Barrier’s interface and functionality look very similar to that of Synergy. If you ever used Synergy before, you will be able to get the Barrier up and running without any issues. 

Regardless, if you are looking for a quick “How to” guide to set up Barrier on multiple computers and operating systems, continue reading.

Important note: To share mouse and keyboard between computers, your machines must be located in the same private network. You will need to download and install Barrier on all computers you want to share your mouse and keyboard with.

Install Barrier on Windows

Barrier is supported on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

Head over to Barrier’s GitHub Releases page and scroll down until you find the Assets section. Click on the BarrierSetup-2.x.x-release.exe to download the executable file.

Install Barrier On Windows
Barrier GitHub Download Page

Double-click on the .exe file to launch the installer. You might be prompted to allow software from an unknown published to make changes to your computer. Click Yes.

Windows User Account
Windows User Account Control

On the Licence Agreement window, make sure “I accept the agreement” and click Next.

Barrier License Agreement
Barrier GNU General License Agreement

On the Select Destination window click Next.

Barrier Select Destination
Barrier Select Destination Location

On the Select Additional Tasks window, check/uncheck if you want to create a Barrier shortcut on your desktop. Click Next.

Barrier Select Additional Task
Barrier Select Additional Tasks

On the Ready To Install window, click Next.

Barrier Ready to Install

The Completing the Barrier Setup Wizard window will appear. You can Launch Barrier now by leaving the checkbox selected and clicking the Finish button.

Barrier Setup Finish
Barrier Completing Setup

Go and follow the instructions in this guide for the second operating system you want to share the mouse and keyboard. If you have already done that, scroll down to the Setup Barrier section.

Install Barrier on macOS

For macOS users, this process can be quite familiar – Barrier installed in the same way any third-party app installs on Mac. If you haven’t download Barrier yet, head over the Barrier GitHub page, scroll down to the Assets section, and download the .dmg package on your system.

Install Barrier on macOS Download
Barrier macOS installation

Drag and drop the Barrier app into your Applications folder—launch Barrier.

Barrier drag and drop macOS
Share Mouse and Keyboard Between Computers (macOS)

If you see a message like this, click on Open System Preferences and then make sure the “App Store and identified developers” checkbox is checked. Bellow the checkbox, you will see “Barrier was blocked from use because is not from an identified developer,” click the Open Anyway button.

Barrier System Preferences
Barrier macOS Accessibility Access

You may be prompted to type your password to allow System Preferences to make changes on your system. Click Unlock.

macOS insert password Barrier
Barrier macOS System Preferences

Barrier app should start now without any issues, and you will be prompted with a Welcome message. Select your language and click Continue

Barrier Welcome
Barrier Welcome message

Next, you will be asked to select between Server or Client. The “Server” is always the computer that has the mouse and keyboard directly connected to it. 

Barrier Server and Client
Barrier – Share Mouse and Keyboard Between Computers
  • If your mouse and keyboard are physically connected to this machine, select “Server.” 
  • If you plan to use another computer’s mouse and keyboard on this machine, select “Client.”

Click Done. Barrier is now installed on your macOS computer.

Scroll down to the Setup Barrier section of this guide to complete the setup.

Install Barrier on Linux

For Linux users, things are more comfortable. On most Linux distros, you can install Barrier straight from the repositories or via the Snap store. If Snap is not installed/enabled on your system for some reason, follow the installation procedure for your system in the links below. 

Linux (deb)

For Debian based distributions, copy and paste the following command on your terminal.

sudo apt install barrier

If you want to install Barrier via Snap (Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc.), follow Snap/Barrier installation instructions here.

Linux (rpm)

sudo dnf install barrier

If you want to install Barrier via Snap on your rpm-based system, follow the instructions at the links provided below:

  • For Fedora, follow Snap installation instructions here.
  • For CentOS, follow Snap installation instructions here.
  • For RedHat, follow Snap installation instructions here.

Linux (arch)

sudo pacman -S barrier

If you want to install Barrier via Snap on your Arch-based system, follow Snap installation instructions here.

FreeBSD/OpenBSD

Open a terminal and type the command shown bellow:

pkg install barrier

Note: Alternatively, you can compile Barrier from source code if you wish. The source code is available on Barrier GitHub page.

Setup Barrier

Setting up Barrier on any operating system is pretty straightforward. For those familiar with Synergy, the setup is practically identical. 

Note: You don’t need to find your local IP address or hostname as Barrier is smart enough to do that for you.

Launch Barrier. You should see an interface similar with this –

Barrier Server Client interface
Barrier Server Client

Note: The computer with the mouse and keyboard physically attached to it is considered the “Server,” The machine that needs to share another’ computer mouse and keyboard is the “Client.” 

We will configure first our Barrier server. Select the Server checkbox.  

Click on the Configure Server button.

On the Server Configuration window, click and drag the monitor icon on the top right corner next to the Server icon. 

Note: Depending on where your second computer/laptop is physically located (left, right, top or bottom), you must place the Client accordingly so the mouse cursor will pass from a display to another in the right direction. My laptop is on the left side, so I will position the client icon on the server’s left side. 

Barrier drag and drop client computer
Barrier – setup client computer

Double click the “Unnamed” monitor icon. A windows new will open.

Now head over to your client computer and launch Barrier, select Client checkbox, and write down the Screen name

Barrier Client Server Name
Barrier Client Screen Name

Still on the client computer, fill in the Server IP – you can find the server IP on your Barrier Server window as shown below. 

Barrier Server IP
Find Barrier Server IP

Start your Barrier Client by clicking the Start button in the bottom right corner of the window. 

Barrier Start Client
Barrier – Setup Client computer

Head over to your Server machine and type the Screen name of your Client computer (1). Add an Alias (e.g., Windows10, macOS, FreeBSD, etc.) and click Add (2). Click OK (3) to close the Screen Settings window.

Configure Server Client IP
Barrier – configure server / client

Your Barrier Server Configuration window should look like bellow. Click OK to close this window. 

Barrier Dashboard
Barrier server / client layout

Start your Barrier Server by clicking the Start button in the bottom right corner of the window. 

Barrier Start Server
Barrier Start Sever

Troubleshooting

Barrier is pretty easy to set up, even if you saw KVM software before. However, if you face any issues, most likely that’s because your computers cannot find each other in your network or you have some strict firewall rules on your machine. 

The best start is to actually monitor the Barrier’s logs. On the Barrier window, click Barrier in the top menu -> Show Logs. Alternatively, you can press F2 on your keyboard.

You can use Ping – a tool coming pre-installed with your operating system to check if the Server and Client can communicate between. 

If your computers are reachable but still cannot connect, check your Firewall rules for inbound/outbound traffic. You can temporarily disable the Firewall on your machine and see if the issue is related to a Firewall rule. 

If you still have issues running Barrier to share mouse and keyboard between your computers, drop me a message below, and I will do my best to help you – I promise!

Leave a Reply