Barrier publishers, the Debauchee Open Source Group, have the motto: “Remove barriers between your machines.” That’s exactly what Barrier does. It can share a keyboard and mouse between several computers and also transfers the contents of the clipboard between them . This is unusual, especially for machines with different operating systems. The Barrier can be run on Windows 7, 8, 10, Linux, MacOS and MacOS X operating systems. At the time of writing, the latest version 2.3.3 was available on the program ‘s home page , which it easily understood with versions 2.3.2 from Ubuntu 20.04 and 2.2.0 from Raspberry Pi OS. For fans of other Linux distributions, let’s say Barrier has found its way into the repositories of most of them.
The program uses port 24800 and the SSL protocol to communicate between the server and the client . Experts might point out that Barrier is very similar to Synergy ‘s Symless program. That’s the right impression. Barrier is a forum for the open part of the Synergy 1.9 source code. Unlike it, however, it is completely released under the GPL 2.0 license and is available for free.
Let’s describe the use of the Barrier program in a simple manual. Imagine you have a PC on your desktop with Ubuntu 20.04 (or Windows 10) and next to it a Raspberry Pi with the Raspberry Pi OS installed. Both are connected to the same network, have monitors connected, and have Barrier installed.
After launching the program, you will be greeted by a simple guide. In it, set the language to Czech and press the Next button to proceed to the next step. This is a computer (PC) to which a mouse and keyboard are physically connected, so select Server (share this computer’s mouse and keyboard) and complete the basic settings by pressing the Finish button .
I recommend making a note of the IP address of the server, which you will find in the IP address field . You will need it when setting up the client. The IP address of the server should be static if possible, otherwise you will have to adjust the Barrier settings on all clients each time it is changed. You enter the server settings themselves using the Set Server … button .
In order for the server to work, it is necessary to set the names of the stations and their distribution around the server. To do this, simply grab the screen symbol in the upper right corner of the program with the mouse and place it in the raster.
Double-clicking on an already placed screen symbol will open its settings. In it, enter the name of the station in the Desktop name field . Click OK to finish setting up the server . Then press the Apply button on the main screen of the program.
We will now set up a second computer (Raspberry Pi) as a client. You need to temporarily connect a keyboard and mouse to it. Setup is even easier than with a server. In the wizard, you only need to select the Client option (use another computer’s mouse and keyboard) . In the program itself, then uncheck the Auto config option and enter the server’s IP address in the Server IP field . After pressing the Run button , the program will ask for confirmation of the SHA fingerprint (SSL fingerprint). Now all you have to do is connect the keyboard and mouse back to the server (PC) and test whether the keyboard and mouse switch to the client computer after hovering the mouse cursor over the screen border.
What to add at the end? Barrier is a useful tool that makes it very easy to work with multiple computers at once. It made my experiments with the Raspberry Pi much easier without having to constantly switch keyboards and mice. Of course, it’s possible to get one of the KVM switches for the same purpose , but a purely software solution also has its charm, don’t you think?