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Nov. 7th, 2003 News: Reader Reports on KVM switchesReturn to News Page

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Reader reports KVM switches with Macs
Posted: 11/7/2003
Last Updated: 11/10/2003

After some previous reports of problems or lack of full functionality (some special keyboard keys, etc. not functional) with KVM switches from G5 owners (on the G5 USB/Firewire device feedback page), I've had a request to see if any other G5 owners since then have found a KVM switch that is fully functional with a G5. (The reason why the special keys on the Apple keyboard don't work (like the eject key) with some KVM switches is noted in past comments on the linked page above.) More than a dozen readers replied they are using some brands/models that were fully functional (including special keys like eject and volume control). But there were also reports (as in the past) on models that did not support special key functions.

Note: For those that reported special keys (eject, volume, etc.) make sure you're not running an older version of USB overdrive, which can cause this problem even w/o a KVM switch per this Applek knowledge base doc. (Some KVM switches won't support the special keys but just a FYI.)

Reader Reports: (most recent first)

(added Nov. 10th, 2003)
"I have a IOGear MiniView 4 Port KVM switch that I use with a G5/1.8, WalMart special windows box, and an old 7600 with an 800 Mhz G4 processor upgrade and a Sonnet Trio card usually running Mac OS 9. I have a partitions on the 7600 for Mac OS X 10.2 and Mac OS X Server 10.2 but have not used them much since I got the switch.

I use the standard Apple keyboard that came with the G5 and all keyboard functions (like eject) work fine with the G5. Since the keyboard lacks soft power on and the 7600 would not support it over USB anyway, this does not work. I have found a problem with Quark 5 crashing on the 7600 when using the USB keyboard. If I connect my ADB keyboard and use it, crashing stops. I have not tried to troubleshoot this configuration.

The Apple keyboard seems fine with the Wintel box and pressing the command key pops up the start menu (I know this because I am constantly trying to use Mac keyboard shortcuts when running Windows and every time I hit the command key the @#$*& Start menu pops up). As I really only use the Wintel machine to run one specialized program, I have not fully investigated its performance. For all machines I use a two button, plus scroll wheel, Microsoft optical mouse. The 7600 (Mac OS 9) has the Microsoft drivers.

I suspect the reason the keyboard works fine with the G5 is that it is the Apple keyboard the machine expects to see.
Richard H.
Apple Certified Technical Coordinator "

(added Nov. 10th, 2003)
"My KVM is an old(ish) Tangtop KVM102UC switch. It's an electronic two-monitor, two-USB-out switch.

Many clone devices built from this design identify themselves as "generic KVM102UC" in Apple System Profiler; my particular one is labelled "Hawking Technology Blackhawk CS112U 2-Port USB/PS2 KVM Switch."

This is the type of KVM which pauses when you push the switch button. All special keys on both Apple and Windows style keyboards work as expected on every computer I've tried it on, including a platinum G3, a Sawtooth G4, a Quicksilver (2001) G4, an iBook G4, a generic Intel 845 (DDR) chipset PC, and an Asus Pentium 3 laptop.
Wayne C. "

(reports added Nov. 7th, 2003 follow)

" I have an OmniView USB KVM Switch box and it is working just fine. I wish I could say the same about Outlook; it broke when I updated to 10.3 and while I can get email, my global address book is just plain gone.
Teresa R. "

" I don't remember the details, but there are two kinds for USB KVM. Those fancier ones translate the USB signals within the switch. These fancy switches keep signaling all connected computers so that all computers think that the kbd is connected even if you are working on a different computer (I believe IOGear GCS1714 is this type). They do have problems with special keys due to translation.
On the other hand, signal goes through directly with simpler switches. I use IOGear G-CS104U with G5 and linux boxes without any problems. All of the keys on Apple kbd works, old kensington 3-button mouse woks. When you switch between computers, there is slight delay before the mouse respond, but it's not so bad.
Naoki "

" For people who have multiple systems on their desk, they might want to try KMremoteControl, and forego some of the KVM hassles (http://www.derman.com/KMremoteControl1.00/KMrC-Overview.html).
Your site is one of my half-dozen "daily visits," BTW. Nice work!
Bryan D.
Derman Enterprises Incorporated "

" I have an Iogear MiniView Model GCS102 U (2-port) on a G5 tower and the keyboard is fully functional. I liked it so well that I bought a MiniView III 4-port and was very disappointed - it had the keyboard problems you are discussing.
Theresa H. "

" I'm using Gefen's DVI Switcher without any problems. My Dual G5 and a Sawtooth/500 both share a cinema display, keyboard, mouse and a ton of other usb devices. I haven't had a single issue.
jonathan h.
www.studio2f.com "

" Mike;
I have a Dual 2 GHz and several other Macs (3x Blue G4, 3x Digital Audio G4, 1x Dual 1.25 GHz MDD, 1x Xserve Dual 1.33, iMac G3/500, Beige G3/266) connected to four cascaded IOGear GCS124U KVM's. I too have the issue where the volume and eject key commands are not passed through the KVM. Fortunately F12 is a suitable eject key when the ones on the keyboard itself does not work. I am using the black Apple Pro keyboard with my setup. Victor Orly
President, Victor Orly Consulting "

" I've been using the MiniView II with a Microsoft Internet Keyboard Pro and an Intellimouse Explorer for over a year. Extra buttons on the keyboard do not work, but the extra buttons on the mouse are easily enabled using USB OverDrive. I spoke with the author of USB OverDrive about supporting keyboards and he said there's just not enough demand for it. I even looking into hacking up the VID #'s to try to get the Microsoft driver to take control of keyboard even though it is not a Microsoft VID. I failed, but it sure seems like there would be a way to make it work.
Keith "

" I've actually got a Iogear MiniView KVM (the original button switch only one) hooked up to my Dual 2Ghz G5 and my old Dual 533Mhz G4 and I've got full Apple keyboard functionality on it (volume up/down, mute and eject) and can attest to it working with both the old G4's keyboard and the new G5's keyboard. As far as mouse I've got a Logitech Marble so it only has two buttons and a wheel so I can't test to see how well it works with more buttons than that.
Technical Specialist
Nebraska ADSSG/ICCC "

" I have an Iogear MiniView (Model G-CS104U) 4 port USB/KVM that works fine. I used to have the MiniView III which did the keyboard and mouse emulation and that had the problem reported where no special keys work.
My Logitech mouse system preferences would also not detect my MX500 mouse either.
The standard MiniView is simply a switched hub so it does not hide your input devices behind their emulation. On the MiniView III, you had to switch the two generic USB peripheral ports separately from the KVM function. This allowed another computer to continue printing or whatever as you switched to another. If this wasn't the case, it would have been easy to use those ports for keyboard and mouse. If the MiniView II switches the peripheral ports with the KVM function you could just plug your keyboard and mouse into them and they should work properly.
Hope this helps,
Brian "

" I'm using the IOGEAR MiniView CS-102U KVM switch. I've got a dual G5, Apple keyboard, Wacom Intuos 2 Graphics Tablet with its wireless 4-button mouse, 2-20" monitors and a HP 2.6g PC attached and the only problem is when I do a boot on the Mac, the CD tray comes out. On rare occasions, the mouse loses contact when switching.
The eject key and sound volume keys work fine.
Vernon W. "

" I am using a Dr. Bott MoniSwitch ADC without any problems. I use it to switch between a Dual 2 Ghz G5 and a Dual 1 Ghz G4 systems using 1 Apple Cinema Display. All the keys function properly and the keyboard and monitor USB port work great. I am running Panther on both systems.
Anthony M.
Dynamic Sciences, Inc. "

" I have an Dr. Bott MoniSwitch Pro 8-port VGA/USB Switch and all keys on my mac keyboard work correctly on it, including the eject and volume keys
Chris "

" I'm using an IOGear MiniView III with a Logitech Internet Navigator keyboard on my G5 and also a Compaq box running XP. The switch does *not* emulate every key on the keyboard (which is immensely frustrating). Furthermore, since the KVM switch emulates a *PC* keyboard, I'm forced to rely on something like uControl to swap the command and option keys.

Knowing now what I didn't know then (why is this such an esoteric topic that I can't find other people's reports about this stuff and am forced to buy one to see if it'll work or not?) I probably would have bought a Belkin KVM that also switches USB peripherals (which the IOGear does, as well, but not in unison with a button-push on the front of the unit). I believe that by using that method (switching of K & M input along with USB periph input) the computer will see two keyboards and mice, but the full array of keys will be available to the computer. With the IOGear unit, when you hit the selector on the front of the box, it only switches the keyboard, video and mouse. The USB devices must be switched from the on-screen menu. You can't get to the on-screen menu with any hot-key combination from a keyboard that's not plugged into the keyboard port of the switch.
Hope that helps someone! :-)
Brian L. "

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