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I recently replaced a computer and am thinking about repurposing the old one as a server for backups, file service, etc. I don't want to buy a new keyboard, monitor, and mouse for it. What would you recommend as a low-cost KVM solution for say 1-3 computers? I know what we use at work, but those are larger KVMs handling many more computers and I don't want to spend that much money. I might be willing to spend as much as a cheap, used monitor/keyboard/mouse just to save space.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Synergy. Its software, but its free and it works great, at least for me.

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I've been using the Belink Omniview 2 port USB KVM at home for a while now, its cheap and works well. Looks like its only availible in 2 ports at the moment though.

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Linksys has 2 and 4 port KVMs for cheap (< $100). Here's a 4-port for PS/2.

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Here's a strange-sounding, but equally valid suggestion: don't buy one. Instead, install VNC on all of your machines and put a simple password on the service. This will eliminate having to buy the KVM, while allowing you to access ALL of your machines from anywhere on your network (where you can get to a computer). A KVM just means that you are using a single input point, implying that you are already in front of a computer. All I'm suggesting is that you not pay the money for the hardware you don't need.

Neat-o side effect: if you can get a secured network connection (via VPN or SSH) you can use tunneling to securely connect to your machines at home from any internet connection that supports a VNC client. And there are literally dozens of platforms supported.

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Thanks for the input. I was thinking of the case where I would need access to the console, but that's probably a rare occurrence and could be handled by swapping cables. –  tvanfosson May 2 '09 at 17:23
    
Oops, didn't catch that. :) Well, it was worth suggesting. –  Avery Payne May 2 '09 at 17:40

Synergy is great, but I don't know if it's what your looking for. It allows you to control multiple machines with one keyboard and mouse, but you'd still need a monitor for it. If this is going to be a server, you may not need a keyboard/mouse/monitor at all. Just use VNC or Remote Desktop whenever you need to access the server and otherwise just let it hum along headless.

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Good suggestion and I probably would be using it remotely most of the time. The server will be right next to another computer and I suppose I could swap cables if necessary to get at the console. –  tvanfosson May 2 '09 at 17:22

I have a cheapo Belkin 4 port KVM. It's pretty decent, except every few days it loses its mind and you have to unplug it and plug it back in again.

If all your computers take USB, you might get away with a monitor switch (which is really cheap and foolproof) and a USB hub that you can plug your keyboard and mouse in, and plug it into whichever computer you want to use.

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Got this one for work once.

http://www.tripplite.com/en/products/model.cfm?txtSeriesID=673&EID=14489&txtModelID=2024

Needs cables tho. Needs no external power.

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