Ultimate Pair Programming Setup might not be so ultimate.

Jeff talks about some of our new ideas and options for improving the old "Ultimate Pair Programming Setup".  Some of the obstacles we are trying to overcome are:

  • VNC lag (why is VNC so slow on a local network?)
  • VNC disconnects
  • Single workstation to ensure complete focus on current task
  • No access to email or IM should force us to take more breaks

Our current thinking as Jeff describes is to somehow configure the hardware to allow the opposite of a KVM switch - in other words - a hardware style VNC - allowing you to connect to any workstation in the pack with your pair.  I think some simple moving people around the workspaces would do the trick but not every wants to move around.

How do you pair?  What is the best configuration you have found?


  • why use vnc at all ? a workstation with dual monitors setup to be clones, with 2 usb mice and 2 keyboards.

  • If you do use VNC, you *MUST* use a version of VNC that has a video hook driver to capture video updates at the driver level. It's easily 10x faster this way.

    I recommend TightVNC, but again, be sure you install that optional video hook driver!

  • We found another solution very useful, especially as we had to pair program across multiple sites.

    We used MSN Messenger, the remote assistance feature. One of us requested assistance, the other responded. We also had headsets and webcams.

    This means we could talk to each other in our own little world, see the expressions as someone says something, and both have equal control over the computer, both having our own monitor, keyboard and mouse, and not having the feeling someone is watching over your shoulder. It works really well.

  • When we do pair programming one person always goes over to the others cube. Seems easy enough to me. I guess it would be harder offsite, but I think offsite you would lose a lot of the advantages of pair programming anyway.

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