Author Topic: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)  (Read 611 times)

STEMorbust

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Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« on: December 21, 2018, 02:07:29 PM »
Been banging my head against the wall all morning trying to figure this out...

The Goal: Create a work-from-home station that supports both Mac and PC with only one keyboard and mouse input while reducing any inefficiencies (hardware not being used). Types of computing to be done: 1) work programming, heavy database stuff, long snippets of code; 2) general browsing, blogging, productivity; 3) non-professional photo editing via Lightroom. Would prefer 2x 27" high resolution matte display monitors.

The Computers
- 2x Mid-2015 MacBook Pro Retina: 2x Thunderbolt, HDMI (one of these MBPs is scheduled for upgrade to new USB-C MBP in 2019)
- 1x Lenovo T430: VGA, Mini DisplayPort (PC varies based on assigned contract job, can't depend on Thunderbolt 3 being available)

Current supplies that I'm working with are a Mac Thunderbolt Display, Mac wired keyboard, Mac Magic Mouse, standing desk with hole for bolt-through monitor arms.

Questions
- Do I use a KVM switch? If so, does it need to have multiple HDMI outputs?
- Instead of a KVM switch, should I manually move cables between computers using adapters and use the Logitech keyboard/mouse that have a toggle from Mac to PC?
- What monitors should I use? I'd rather not use a single monitor but will if it guarantees functionality with the MBPs. Also fine with retiring the Thunderbolt display.

Thank you!

ketchup

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2018, 02:37:34 PM »
Every HDMI/DVI KVM switch I've tried using has been garbage or turned into garbage within a couple months (old VGA ones were always fine).  And I've used some pricey ones.  Unless you're literally flipping back and forth all day every day, I would just manually swap cables when needed.

Standing desk is definitely a good call.

STEMorbust

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 02:48:00 PM »
Every HDMI/DVI KVM switch I've tried using has been garbage or turned into garbage within a couple months (old VGA ones were always fine).  And I've used some pricey ones.  Unless you're literally flipping back and forth all day every day, I would just manually swap cables when needed.

Standing desk is definitely a good call.

Ah, bummed to hear that. Appreciate the reply. Would it make sense to use some kind of universal docking station that connects to a single computer at a time in order to minimize cable movement and make it easier to use one keyboard/mouse?

PS I'm actually using a treadmill desk these days. Walking 1.7 MPH as I type this!

ketchup

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2018, 03:14:20 PM »
Maybe, though if you can't count on either having USB-C or Thunderbolt on both, that might prove tricky.  Also read up on any docks, some are flat out buggy (Dell TB15 was a particularly bad one from what I hear before it was replaced with the TB16).

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 03:35:32 PM »
I think this is what you're looking for:

https://symless.com/synergy

Lets you use one keyboard and mouse between computers that are next to each other.  You install it on each system and tell it the physical layout of the screens, so when you move the mouse around it properly moves between screens.  Then the keyboard types on the active screen.

I've used it before, it's simple and brilliant.

STEMorbust

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2018, 03:41:03 PM »
I think this is what you're looking for:

https://symless.com/synergy

Lets you use one keyboard and mouse between computers that are next to each other.  You install it on each system and tell it the physical layout of the screens, so when you move the mouse around it properly moves between screens.  Then the keyboard types on the active screen.

I've used it before, it's simple and brilliant.

I read that Synergy has security risks because of how it's setup. Do you have any familiarity with that? The computers that I work off of are keylogged/big brothered and can't share data in certain ways.

BDWW

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 03:41:59 PM »
I would probably just hook the displays up to different inputs, and move the keyboard/m as necessary.

Looks like you could do:    mon  1: VGA-PC,  DP(TB)-mac;   mon 2: DP-PC HDMI-mac

Of course you'd have to ensure that have the available inputs.

edit: just re-read, and I see you have 2 macs, so probably be much more difficult if you need all 3 to usable at the same time.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 03:43:56 PM by BDWW »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2018, 03:51:44 PM »
I read that Synergy has security risks because of how it's setup. Do you have any familiarity with that? The computers that I work off of are keylogged/big brothered and can't share data in certain ways.

I'm not familiar with them but it's been a long time since I used it.  It's a pretty simple program that speaks to itself over the network, not sure how many attack vectors there would be.

STEMorbust

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2018, 04:20:58 PM »
I would probably just hook the displays up to different inputs, and move the keyboard/m as necessary.

Looks like you could do:    mon  1: VGA-PC,  DP(TB)-mac;   mon 2: DP-PC HDMI-mac

Of course you'd have to ensure that have the available inputs.

edit: just re-read, and I see you have 2 macs, so probably be much more difficult if you need all 3 to usable at the same time.

I think you're right. I do not need to have any of the computers usable at the same time! Just want to be able to use the same hardware no matter which is being hooked up.

Logitech makes a keyboard and mouse that have a bluetooth toggle for use with multiple systems. That may be my best bet rather than trying to use a docking system, which would add an additional layer of adapter use.

EDIT: Realizing that you're suggested solution would allow for two computers to remain hooked up at all times, with input switching on the monitors to toggle. This sounds like a good idea.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 04:26:14 PM by STEMorbust »

Syonyk

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 09:44:07 PM »
I read that Synergy has security risks because of how it's setup. Do you have any familiarity with that? The computers that I work off of are keylogged/big brothered and can't share data in certain ways.

If any of your machines are on a VPN connection, Synergy won't work.  Most Windows corporate VPN configurations prohibit being connected to the VPN and talking to local network endpoints at the same time (to avoid inadvertently bridging your home network and the corporate network).

Plus, it's well suited to machines with monitors next to each other, less so for totally separate machines.  And it requires everything to always be powered up.

Is there a reason you need the laptops?  My shed office setup has an iMac, plus a few monitors for Windows/Linux machines, though I've got a big "L" desk, and quite a few keyboards.  It doesn't really bother me to have... um... *counts*  4 keyboards, 6 monitors... a couple KVM switches... when you throw in some utility Raspberry Pis on the edges, there's quite a bit of hardware in there.

I don't know the details of what you're doing, but if you can't rely on USB-C/Thunderbolt docking, it's going to be a pain to get all that working seamlessly, and I agree with the "KVM switches are a pain" assertion.  Plus, the cheap ones don't support high resolution, and the ones that support high resolution are staggeringly expensive.  I've got a few systems on a KVM switch, but I bought a super cheap VGA/USB KVM, don't use the VGA, and just manually switch monitors between inputs as needed.

STEMorbust

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Re: Help Making WFH Setup (Mac & PC)
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2018, 10:47:27 PM »
I read that Synergy has security risks because of how it's setup. Do you have any familiarity with that? The computers that I work off of are keylogged/big brothered and can't share data in certain ways.

If any of your machines are on a VPN connection, Synergy won't work.  Most Windows corporate VPN configurations prohibit being connected to the VPN and talking to local network endpoints at the same time (to avoid inadvertently bridging your home network and the corporate network).

Plus, it's well suited to machines with monitors next to each other, less so for totally separate machines.  And it requires everything to always be powered up.

Is there a reason you need the laptops?  My shed office setup has an iMac, plus a few monitors for Windows/Linux machines, though I've got a big "L" desk, and quite a few keyboards.  It doesn't really bother me to have... um... *counts*  4 keyboards, 6 monitors... a couple KVM switches... when you throw in some utility Raspberry Pis on the edges, there's quite a bit of hardware in there.

I don't know the details of what you're doing, but if you can't rely on USB-C/Thunderbolt docking, it's going to be a pain to get all that working seamlessly, and I agree with the "KVM switches are a pain" assertion.  Plus, the cheap ones don't support high resolution, and the ones that support high resolution are staggeringly expensive.  I've got a few systems on a KVM switch, but I bought a super cheap VGA/USB KVM, don't use the VGA, and just manually switch monitors between inputs as needed.

Roger that. I am almost always on a VPN. Have to use the laptops because I go work in person quite a bit/travel to location. What I've decided to go with is:

- 34" Ultrawide Monitor
- Dual arm monitor mounts with laptop mount on one arm
- Logitech FLOW keyboard and mouse

That way I can rotate the computer on the stand and have the small amount of screen real estate for something like chat applications while I do all of the work on the main screen. Using a single external monitor will reduce the adapters needed, while the Logitech k/m can switch between three connected computers. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out!