Kyle Reeping

Some observations about the screen/mouse freezing problem.

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Posted (edited)

I've been plagued by the "mouse freezing" causing screen lockups on on the server machine for a long time now.

 

Nothing I've done seems to fix it. I've enabled debug1 logs on all my computers, disabled clipboard sharing, computers are connected through wired connections directly to the router, and the NICs work well on all of the computers.

The exact problem is this: If I'm using the mouse on a remote computer (doesn't matter if it's the mac or the PC (3 computers in my setup), occasionally the mouse on the remote computer will freeze, AND the entire screen of the server will freeze, although audio will continue (sometimes.) The remote screens do NOT freeze, and I can still use their own mice on each machine, just not the mouse that's connected to my server. The server computer is a windows 10 machine, one of the remote computers is a windows 7 machine, and the other is a mac. I was using the latest synergy 1 version for a while, then that annoyed me, so I kept downgrading as far as I could... however none of the older versions work any better. I was also offered synergy 2. I used that, and honestly the freezing problem was so much worse (and the interface for 2 is quite literally awful). So I went back to synergy 1. The freezes are really inconsistent. Sometimes I'll be ok for a half hour, sometimes I'll get 3 freezes in 2 minutes. The freeze lasts for ~10 seconds. 

At first I thought that my NICs were going bad, so I pinged each computer in my network from each other computer, every second, until a freeze happened. The pings still worked, still connected, no dropped packets whatsoever. So the NICs are good (and router is good.) 

 

The freezes seem to happen most often when I'm running a full screen application on the server computer (like watching a movie.) Or maybe that's just when I notice them the most. 

 

Now, I know that I should be sharing the logs, but one thing I've learned from having the debug1 log turned on for the last 2 months is this.

The debug log is ESSENTIALLY a keylogger. It literally records EVERY mouse click, move, and more importantly, every keystroke, even if your mouse isn't on the remote screen. So... no thanks. I don't... really want to share that with you. I like my passwords where they are thank you very much. 

 

Ok so onto the observations.

 

Despite having clipboard sharing disabled, the remote windows machine still tries to check for updated clipboard contents, almost EVERY time it freezes. It shows something like this in the debug log. I have no idea WHY the remote computer is trying to mess with the clipboard, because I explicitly turned it off in the server settings. And I hadn't copied/pasted anything recently either. (I usually just play a simple game (not at all graphics intensive, used to be a flash game) on this computer while I'm watching a movie on the server screen.)


[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: open clipboard
[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: empty clipboard
[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: close clipboard
[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: open clipboard
[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: empty clipboard
[2018-06-18T09:33:49] DEBUG: close clipboard
 

However, I've also noticed that synergy will randomly freaking turn clipboard sharing back on. I must have turned that setting off a half dozen times over the last 2 months. I haven't restarted the server, I haven't restarted the computers (to my knowledge, with windows update though I may be wrong.) I'll notice in the log that it'll be copying the clipboard back and forth, then I'll go turn the setting off... again. And yes, I made sure to cycle synergy off/on on the remote machines after I restarted the server. 

 

Observation #2. Every single time my mac screen saver tries to turn on, the mouse will freeze on the remote computer. EVERY... SINGLE... TIME, without fail. Synchronize screen savers is turned OFF. (Not that that setting works anyway.) (I'm usually using the mouse on the remote windows machine when the mac screen saver tries to turn on.) 

 

Observation #3: Enabling debug logs seemed to alleviate the problem... for a few days. No idea how that worked. 

 

Observation #4: This one is I'm a bit less sure about. Synergy seems to work a lot better with cheap as hell mice. On my main computer (the one I've been using as a mouse/keyboard sever for months) has a nice gaming mouse connected to it. Now, I remember reading a while back that synergy may not like high polling rate mice, so I turned the polling rate down to 150 Hz (as low as it could go). That didn't help. But when I made the server my OTHER windows computer with a $20 microsoft wireless mouse/keyboard, I haven't experienced any freezes yet. Whether or not that's related to just starting a new server (the freezes don't seem to happen for a while after installing a new version or choosing a different computer as the server.) Although this kinda defeats the point of having a nice keyboard/mouse. I understand that synergy is mainly build for people in business situations, but still. The program should be able to work with nice mice as well. If mouse without borders can do it, you can too.

 

Observation #5: (Not related to freezing.) If I use the mac mouse as the shared mouse (with the mac as the server). The mouse will still make "mouse over" popups appear on the mac screen, even if the mouse is on a remote screen. I had a program open that had a list of music that would have a pop up window appear if you moused over a song name. This window would still appear despite the mouse not being on the screen. It was... disconcerting, but didn't really hurt anything. The real problem with using the mac mouse as the server is the GOD AWFUL performance when the mouse was on the remote windows screens. For some reason... the tracking was off. The mouse moved UP more than it moved down. If I moved the mouse in a circle, the circle would migrate up the page, but it wouldn't do the same if I made the same circle on the mac. It was REALLY... REALLY infuriating so much so that I couldn't deal with the mac being the server after 5 minutes. 

 

In conclusion: I think synergy is a mess. I'm really glad that some new programmers are being hired. I was already offered refund, but the problem is that I LIKE synergy, and I REALLY REALLY WANT it to work. Maybe one day I'll be able to have only one mouse on my desk, but for now I'll stick with keeping the 3 mice and keyboards there for when synergy fails and I have to fix it. I hope these observations help someone, but honestly the freezing is infuriating. And honestly concerning. Why is a mouse sharing program freezing the entire graphics card of my server machine. That's.... not cool. I mean, I can understand the program hanging, but literally freezing the entirety of the graphics processing on my server machine is not good. 

Edited by Kyle Reeping

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And yes, I realize that the version of synergy I'm using could be important, but honestly this behavior has been identical for 1.8.8, 1.8.7, 1.8.6, etc. So it's not that important. I think I'm back on 1.8.8 now, can't be bothered to check. Other than that both windows machines use auto updates and so does the mac, so they should all be pretty up to date. 

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