Barrier: A Free, Open-Source and Cross-Platform Alternative to Synergy

You’ve probably heard of Synergy before. If you didn’t, Synergy is a piece of software that allows you to shares one mouse and one keyboard between multiple computers.

A great piece of software that costs $29 for the basic version and $39 for the pro version.

If you’d love to have the capabilities that Synergy provides but don’t want to fork over $29, you should check out Barrier which is free, open-source and cross-platform.

Synergy started as an open source project. So the guys over at Barrier forked that original Synergy project, updated it and kept it’s minimalistic design.


Barrier is cross-platform and your OS/distro probably already has Barrier packaged for it. Check out a list of barrier versions here. Alternatively, there’s a snap and a flatpak.



This is a basic installation and setup tutorial. For demo purposes I’m going to use an iMac as a Barrier server and a linux machine as a Barrier client.

1. Install Barrier on your computer. Check the list above and see where Barrier is available on your specific OS/distro. On macOS, you can install Barrier via Homebrew ( click on Homebrew to learn how to install and use it ).

Once Homebrew is installed, all you have to do to install barrier is type “brew cask install barrier”


2. Run Barrier and decide if the computer is a server or a client ( read description if unsure ). In this case, this computer is a server.


2.1 Install Barrier on the second computer ( or 3rd, 4th and so on ) and set it as client.


3. On macOS you need to allow barrier to control your computer. To do it go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility > click the lock to make changes ( bottom left corner ) > select Barrier.


4. Now configure the server.

4.1 Set the second computer. There’s a grid. Arrange your computers the way they’re physically set up in front of you. For example, I have my iMac right in front of me while the linux machine is on the left side. I’ve arranged the machines accordingly in Barrier.


5. Click “Start” on the main screen of your server Barrier computer.


6. Now on the client machine, open barrier and enter the server IP.


7. Click “Start” on the main screen of your client Barrier computer.


8. Your client machine will ask you if you accept the server’s fingerprint. Check the server window and see if the SSL fingerprint matches. If it does, click yes.


9.  Now the Barrier client will connect to the server and you will be able to use your share your mouse/touchpad and keyboard between your computers.


For more info and troubleshoothing, check out the official project on GitHub.