Adding a display over network !

You are doomed if your laptop has only one HDMI Port & you are running Linux in that box.

Unlike windows – where there are tons of easy to run solution, & there are still tons of solutions if you have big numbers in your pocket.

Certainly – I neither wish to spend money on external VGA/HDMI extender or docking station nor to change OS. So after googling a lot I discovered a solution which utilized a different machine to act as the streaming client. You can use RPI or an old p4 machine.

Below is how it works.

  1. Adds a virtual display on your machine, usually all graphics card support at least one virtual display.  You do all this using xrandr
  2. Create a VNC Server to stream that display – but since you cannot each time run two commands just to connect display – we are running VNCViewer in listen mode
  3. Connect to vnc viewer & keep running it in the background.

You Laptop —[Display Data]—> Network —-> VNCViewer

As suggested above you data is being streamed over the network  – you cannot run 4k data. But if you have good Lan speed you won’t face any problem.

I have also optimized settings for best experience – so far I can use terminal, watch videos – the only drawback is you feel the lag when you use keyboard or mouse for realtime feedback.

In Client Machine, i.e. your laptop.

You will need to install x11vnc & screen

#!/bin/bash
#Run VNC server in remote device. 10.0.0.2 is my machine which has monitor connected.
ssh  [email protected] "nohup /root/vncserver.sh > /dev/null 2>&1 &"
xrandr --addmode VIRTUAL1 1920x1080
xrandr --output VIRTUAL1 --mode 1920x1080 --right-of eDP1 # find your main display
screen -X -S vnc quit
killall x11vnc
# adjust postion 1920x1080+3511+180, i.e. 3511+180 accordingly
# i have different resultion display so had to move.
screen -dmS vnc  x11vnc -connect 10.0.0.2:5500  -display :0 -clip 1920x1080+3511+180 -wirecopyrect  -viewonly --nossl -ncache 10 -ncache_cr

In server Machine (LAN address 10.0.0.2)

if [[ $(ps -ef | grep -c vncviewer)  -ne 1 ]];
then
    echo "Running"
else
   export DISPLAY=:0.0;
    vncviewer -listen 0 -fullscreen -owncmap -viewonly;
fi

You will need to install VNC Viewer in client side.

2 comments

    • Rob on October 13, 2020 at 10:46 am
    • Reply

    Hey, you mention using a Pi as the receiver…

    I have a Pi4… Is this a headless install? What advice can you perhaps offer since this fantastic first post?

    Thanks,

    Rob

  1. Hi Rob,

    By headless do you mean without any gui, because that would make it useless.

    but if you mean that without any desktop env like gnome etc, then yes ! it is a headless installation and you can use RPI4.

    Thanks for awesome feedback 😀

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