Mac Daniel's Advice

Using One Keyboard, Mouse, and Monitor with Your

Dan Knight - 2005.03.30 - Tip Jar

USB Mac and PS/2 Windows PC

Yesterday I posted How About a KVM Switch for USB Macs and PS/2 Windows PCs?, bemoaning my inability to find a low-cost keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) switch that would work with both a USB Mac and a PC that required PS/2 input.

Thanks to several readers, I am able to report that such items do exist, and they're not terribly expensive. On top of that, I have a couple of even less costly options some readers have suggested.

The iView KVM

There seems to be precisely one solution to this problem, the 2 Port iView Mini KVM Switch with PS/2, USB, audio, and integrated cables, which appears to be available only from Triangle Cables. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it's good enough.

The iView Mini KVM has VGA, audio, PS/2 keyboard, and PS/2 mouse plugs on one side; VGA, audio, and USB on the other; and VGA, audio, PS/2 keyboard, and PS/2 mouse inputs in the middle (the switch). That means you can't use a USB mouse and keyboard without USB-to-PS/2 adapters.

iView Mini KVMI don't think that's going to be a problem for the bulk of the target audience, which already has a computer with PS/2 ports and therefore must have a PS/2 mouse and keyboard. This should work like a charm with my Logitech wireless mouse/keyboard combo, since it supports PS/2 as well as USB.

Thanks to Dan Harmon of Chicago for passing along information on this device, which he uses. It sells for US$59.

The Petite CS-521 KVM

Petits CS-521Another solution is the Petite CS-521, which supports PS2 keyboard and mouse input switched between one PS/2 machine and one USB computer. The biggest drawback with this one is that it claims to have 4" cables, but maybe that's a typo for a 4' cable.

The Petite CS-521 KVM is available from ATEN for US$49.95. Thanks to Timothy Gogh for bringing this to my attention.

Other Options

More expensive than either of these, Eric suggests the Belkin OmniView™ SOHO Series KVM Switch with Audio, PS/2, USB, and VGA. The lowest price I've seen on this KVM is US$80.

Several readers suggest using a PS/2 KVM with a 2-female-PS/2-to-one-USB adapter. H Wayne Anderson reports picking up a GE adapter at Big Lots for $4. This may be the most economical solution. It's definitely the one I'll be pursuing first.

Gary Shelton notes that it should be possible to change the BIOS in my Dell: "In your Dell's BIOS, there should be a setting that will allow the computer to boot without a PS/2 keyboard and mouse attached. It's location is dependent upon the age of the machine and the manufacturer of the BIOS, but on most older machines it's an option on the first screen, listed under something such as 'Halt on Error' - there should be a setting there to tell the computer to ignore keyboard errors, which will allow the computer to boot without a keyboard. I discovered this many years ago when using PCs with UNIXy operating systems like FreeBSD, where I could reasonably expect the computer to run 'headless'."

I tried it, found the keyboard error reporting setting on the second setup page (hold F2 at startup), and told it not to report errors. Then I plugged the wireless base into the USB port, rebooted, and the Dell did boot into Windows. And then Windows complained that there was no PS/2 mouse....

Thanks to everyone who wrote. It's nice to have this kind of support - and to discover that something I couldn't find does exist. LEM

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