[Technology] Building Synergy

Synergy is software that will share a keyboard, mouse, and clipboard between computers over a network.  It's great.  If you have multiple machines in one place, you can just drag your mouse cursor between their screens, even if they're running different operating system.

I want to start off by saying that synergy seems like great software.  I used it a lot in the past, and was very pleased with the results.  It wasn't very user friendly then, and at some point it was no longer actively maintained.  It seems to be actively maintained now, and even has file drag-and-drop support between computers (for Windows and Mac, not for Linux yet ;_;).  In the rest of this post, I'll be detailing each step and obstacle I encountered trying to set up synergy 1.4.16 (the latest as of today) on Fedora 20.  In part, I hope it helps the next person who tries this and perhaps Googles their error messages.  Know that if you're just a regular user, don't take the issues that arise below as a cause for terror.  You can do what you should, just install the package from the repository (if you're fine not having your key presses be encrypted over the network...) and not worry about anything.  A lot of the problems below will emerge from me not properly understanding what's expected, but then that goes to show how straightforward or not building Synergy can be.

A quick summary is:

  • can't install from RPM

  • can't build from source using cmake

  • can't install from source using configure

  • just copied binaries out of RPM in the end :(

attempt 1: installing from an RPM

I run Fedora Linux 20.  The version Fedora has in its repository is 1.4.10.  The latest version from synergy-foss.org is 1.4.16 and has some features I would like.  synergy-foss.org provides a pre-built package for Fedora, but there's an issue with their package for 1.4.16 preventing it from installing.

Error: Package: synergy-1.4.16-1.x86_64 (/synergy-1.4.16-r1969-Linux-x86_64)
           Requires: libcurl.so.4(CURL_OPENSSL_3)(64bit)

They explain that in their release notes.  Basically the packages get built on a Ubuntu installation which has an out-dated version of curl.  Whoops.  So, I'll take the opportunity to build it myself.

attempt 2: building from source, with cmake (their recommendation)

The first problem I have in building is that their wiki tells me to use their hm script.  First, I try following hm.sh's own suggestion of

$ ./hm.sh build -g 1

Error: option -g not recognized

Hmm, double check the wiki and ... aha, yes, apparently -g should go to conf and not build.  When I try doing

$ ./hm.sh conf -g1
Error: Could not find qmake.
Error: Cannot continue without qmake. 

Fine.  I install qt-devel, and set PATH to include the directory containing qmake

PATH=$PATH:/usr/lib64/qt4/bin ./hm.sh conf -g1

Success.  Next step,

$ ./hm.sh build
Entering dir: build/release
make: *** No targets specified and no makefile found.  Stop.

... Great. The instructions say I can skip the hm script, so yay.  I follow its advice and go to

$ cd build/

$ make
make: *** No targets specified and no makefile found.  Stop.

attempt 3: building from source, the old fashioned way (not their recommendation)

... Alright.  I see that there is a configure script.  I am used to doing ./configure && make && make install, so let's try it the old fashioned way. The next problem I encounter is with Xtst,

Missing library: Xtst

I thus installed libXtst-devel (which may have been unnecessary; libXtst was already installed) but still, I get that error message.  I then grep'd about and checked CMakeError.log.

/usr/bin/cc   -DCHECK_FUNCTION_EXISTS=XTestQueryExtension    CMakeFiles/cmTryCompileExec218679776.dir/CheckFunctionExists.c.o  -o cmTr\
yCompileExec218679776 -rdynamic -lXtst -lXext -lX11
/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lXtst


I then went to /tmp/ and tried compiling with -lXtst myself and... it worked.

I deleted the build directory, and unpacked a new one, and ... it worked.  Annoyingly, their configure script apparently doesn't check again, and I'm not sure what you would use to clear its memory of the failure. Ah well.

Next problem is this:

CMake Error at tools/CMakeLists.txt:87 (add_library):
  Cannot find source file:

I poked about with find and grep and ultimately found tools/cryptopp562.zip.  If I just use unzip on it, it actually dumps all its files into the tools/ directory, so, clean up that mess, and then create cryptopp562, and unzip it into there.

And ... it works.  I think.  I manage to success do "make", but then there's no "make install" target.  Hmm, let's check hm.sh again; yup, there's an install target!

$ ./hm.sh install

Not yet implemented: install


I peeked in bin/ and found a bunch of binaries that are familiar to me from the old synergy/synergy2 days, but reading the User Manual and the User Wiki to find out how to set it up again almost exclusively references a GUI, and none of these binaries are a GUI...

attempt 4: pillaging the RPM

OK, let's just extract the contents of the 1.4.16 RPM and see how the .desktop application file works and- aha, there is another binary, synergy, that hasn't been built.  Let's just copy these into ~/.local/bin and ... it works.

It works.

running it

Now, getting it to run.  Two more hiccoughs.  One was that I needed to open the firewall port.  Using FirewallD in Fedora, I used this command,

firewall-cmd --add-port=24800/tcp

Next, I configured the server to know the client using the GUI, and they could finally connect.  Hurrah! 

It's running beautifully now.  Hopefully future releases will Just Work on Fedora like older releases. :)

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