Mac Mini / Windows PC both hooked to same keyboard/mouse

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by MarkD, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. MarkD macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #1
    Dear Gang,

    My secretary has a windows PC with a low quality flat panel LCD screen. I would like to get her a Mac Mini so that she can start using iCal and Address Book to help organize my schedule rather than Windows-based organizers. However, her desk space is limited. Is there a way to somehow use the same keyboard and mouse for both a Windows machine and a Mac Mini? For some reason, I want to say that I've seen or heard of a toggle switch that will let you switch between computers so that peripherals like keyboards/mice can be used with two separate computers.

    TIA for your help,
    Mark
     
  2. screensaver400 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    #2
    Its called a KVM switch. Make sure your keyboard and mouse are compatible with both the mac mini and kvm switch... They both need to be USB, or have USB adapters. Make sure the KVM switch accepts USB connections, too, not just PS/2 connections.
     
  3. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #3
    Screensaver,

    Thank you for your prompt response. Can you offer some advice on which type of KVM switch I ought to get? About how much should I expect to pay for something like this?

    Mark
     
  4. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Location:
    Cardiff, Wales
    #4
    MarkD,

    I use a belkin KVM.. very good. Use their wizard here to see which to buy. They're not very expensive.

    MagiX
     
  5. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #5
    MagiX,

    Thank you for your reply. I'm going to go see what kind of ports the peripherals on my secretary's PC use (I doubt that they're USB) and then come back and ask the group which KVM would be best to integrate the Mac Mini in to the set-up.

    Thank you again,
    Mark
     
  6. weldon macrumors 6502a

    weldon

    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #6
    If the PC has USB and DVI, you will want to check out the Belkin Flip KVM coming out soon. It is designed to sit directly underneath the Mac mini.
     
  7. kgarner macrumors 68000

    kgarner

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Utah
    #7
    I think the Flip is only going to support VGA. At least that is what I remember seeing when i looked at it. I used an IOGear KVM switch that worked well. The only problem I had with it was that none of my (admittedly, older) Apple keyboards worked with it. So I had to use a PC keyboard. Not a big deal, but I like the Apple keyboards.
     
  8. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

    Joined:
    May 15, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #8
    Has anyone used a wireless keyboard & mouse with a KVM. I'm not talking Bluetooth, but a normal, USB based RF wireless keyboard and mouse combo. I'm sure it would work because the computer (KVM in this case) sees them as normal, wired USB devices.

    Anyone have any experience with this?
     
  9. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #9
    Why not get rid of the large pc and just use a mac mini. Grab a copy of Microsoft Office for Mac and you will be set, unless there's other software you need?
     
  10. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #10
    DeSnousa,

    We work in a medical office and there are Windows only programs (as well as DOS programs) that only run on a Windows machine, so my only solution is to bring in an additional computer (i.e. the Apple) rather than switch to Apple. However, I completely agree with you. Ideally, we'd switch completely to Apple if it weren't for these other programs, and we'd use MS Office to play well with the rest of the business world.

    Mark
     
  11. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #11
    I would recommend a Sourceforge project called Synergy. It works suprisingly well and is pretty easy to set up once you get the hang of it. Compatible with Linux, OS X, and Windows, it allows you to do exactly what you want without buying hardware. You'll have to open port 24800 on your firewall and configure a small file (takes less than 30 seconds once you figure out the syntax). Moving your mouse to a predefined edge of the screen switches it to the other computer, and vice versa.

    I use it heavily to switch among my 3 main systems and it works great. Communication is over the local network, so there's a possibility of control hijacking if your network is compromised. But then, you've got bigger problems to worry about at that point. There is a way to connect over a secure tunnel, but that requires some advanced configuration.

    But the fact that you don't need to buy any hardware (especially the fairly expensive USB-enable KVM switches) is a definite bonus. I'd run the server on the Windows machine (meaning connecting the KB/mouse to the PC and sharing it out) because it's easier to manage using a small application instead of the command line.

    EDIT: You also wouldn't need to worry about whether it's wireless or USB or PS/2...it doesn't matter to Synergy! Having to deal with all the ports can be a nightmare.
     
  12. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #12
    Matticus,

    Thank you for your reply. I'm sure that your method works great (probably better and cheaper than the KVM switch). However, I'm not very Windows proficient (that's why I switched to Apple) so I'm somewhat intimidated by your solution. For the record, our office has an IT department and I feel that they're also intimidated by Windows, but I'm sure they would have a cow about letting me try to set-up the configuration that you're describing.

    Let me ask you this: since I originally started this thread, I went and looked to see how the keyboard and mouse that my secretary uses are connected to her Dell (or maybe it's a Gateway). They're connected via little round connectors rather than via USB or any type of serial port. Which type of KVM would I need to purchase to make these peripherals play well with the Mac Mini? I certainly don't see the same little round receptors on the back of the Mac Mini - in fact, appears to use USB to connect keyboards and mice.

    TIA,
    Mark
     
  13. chicagdan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #13
    Another option is to disconnect the Windows machine from the monitor altogether, tuck its keyboard and mouse out of sight and use the (free) Microsoft Remote Desktop Application to run Windows programs on your Mac.

    I've kept a PC around for online sports and poker games for a few years now, but I've just shoved it in a closet and never dealt with it, connecting only via remote. The system is much, much faster than Virtual PC and if you connect the PC to your Airport base station via Ethernet, it's very fast.

    This way your secretary will be able to use the Mac 100 percent of the time and still get to run all the Windows programs you must.
     
  14. redeye be macrumors 65816

    redeye be

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    Jan 27, 2005
    Location:
    BXL
    #14
    synergy is great, but you will need a screen for both your PC and your Mac (that makes 2). I think you'll be better of with a KVM switch, unless i missed reading about you wanting your secretary to have 2 screens. Unless of course het screen has dual inputs...

    Synergy is very easy to setup on a PC, i'd be happy to help you write the config file for mac. You could also look
    here.
     
  15. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #15
    Hmm. Yeah, you definitely need two monitors. But the original post said keyboard and mouse, so I just sort of assumed that there were two monitors involved. Good point.
     
  16. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Location:
    Cardiff, Wales
    #16

    Yes. They work, but sometimes you need to pull out the USB cable and plug it back in for it to redetect it.
     
  17. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #17
    My secretary has only one monitor and I'd like to keep it that way - I should have mentioned trying to use one monitor, keyboard, and mouse in my original post.

    I really appreciate all the responses to my original question - sounds like there are several potential solutions to my problem. I think the KVM switch will be the easiest for now (unless the free Microsoft emulator is truly free and very simple to use and set-up).

    Do I understand ya'll to say that I'll need to get a KVM switch that has only USB? In other words, I'll need to switch the keyboard and mouse to USB also? Or, do the KVM switches come in models that allow for the older type of keyboards and mice to work in this environment? Incidentally, I think she's running Windows XP on her desktop - there shouldn't be any problem switching to a USB mouse/keyboard with this is there?

    Mark
     
  18. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #18
    Right now, her keyboard and mouse are using PS/2 ports.

    Assuming that she has a USB port on her machine, you can get a KVM switch that has PS/2 KB/Mouse INputs, and USB OUTputs to the machines.

    There is one inexpensive one by TRENDWARE INC TK-206I that I have used on a Mac/PC combination with a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and it works well (actually I currently have it running a Mini and a Beige G3). You hit ScrollLock-ScrollLock-1 or 2 to switch between the machines. It is VGA monitor only (which the cheap LCD is almost certainly VGA anyway). The onlyy bad thing is you can't use a USB keyboard with it (haven't tried it with a USB/PS2 adaptor tho')

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  19. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #19
    Trevor,

    So this KVM switch from Trendware would connect to the PS/2 ports of the keyboard and mouse and convert that to USB for both the Mac Mini and the Gateway?

    Her LCD is definitely cheap (our company never buys anything too expensive). If VGA is the cheapest kind of input to an LCD, then I suspect that that is what she has.

    Mark
     
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #20
    Exactly.
     
  21. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #21
  22. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #22
    You hit ScrollLock-ScrollLock-1 or 2 to switch between the machines.

    On the keyboard itself.

    What was that -- is there an echo in here? :p
     
  23. MarkD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #23
    Thank you again for all your help. I'm going to look tomorrow and see if she has a scrolllock key on her keyboard, and if so, I'll order it. Do you forsee any problems in terms of her computer recognizing a USB keyboard? She has open USB slots, so that isn't a problem, and I believe that she is running XP. However, all things Windows defy reason (at least from my perspective) so it's concievable to me that maybe her machine won't recognize a keyboard/mouse that have been converted to USB.

    Mark
     
  24. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #24
    It should be plug and go on XP - it was on the PC I hooked it up to.
     
  25. barneygumble macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    #25
    rather than start a new thread, does anyone know when the belkin flip will have DVI connections, i am holding of my mini order until they are released, thanks for taking the time to reply :)
     

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