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

In server Machine (LAN address 10.0.0.2)

You will need to install VNC Viewer in client side.

Kindle Universal Dashboard

Kindle is Super awesome !

Because of its e-ink display. I wanted a display to present data which has – Least power consumption, Not painful to eyes & obviously one which doesn’t emit blue light.
E-Ink displays fit perfectly to my requirement – acquiring a display which can be driven using Raspberry Pi or Arduino is hard, size/cost ratio is much higher.

On googling I found some display modules which were more or near to 70-80$ – even smaller display – which impulsed me to get a Kindle Touch (8th Generation) at around 74$ approx.

Kindle - MadhurendraKindle comes with an experimental browser but it is narrowed version of WebKit, which is pretty useful if you want to display static content or just want to make a control panel, it can easily render normal websites which use js/CSS & works pretty well. But support for HTML5 is almost absent – so you can’t use WebSockets to push data, using long polling/fast polling is only solutions so far.

Moreover, there was another problem which I had to fix – Kindle has fixed timeout which sends it to sleep mode – for mine it was 10min, after digging I found you can use ~ds or similar but for me, nothing worked.

We can only hope that support to remove timeout or change timeout period will be added in future releases. I think old kindle supports.

If you can’t change timeout or you want to use few other features I suggest you to jailbreak. Follow steps mentioned here http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=275877 , Don’t jump, It works for kindle touch 8th generation. Tried, tested, working !  For KT3 you will need to install MRPI along with KUAL. Once done your kindle is officially out of warranty 😀 . Post that you need to install USBNet – it will  allow you to ssh to your kindle.  All this will allow you to execute “lipc-set-prop com.lab126.powerd preventScreenSaver 1″ this on the kindle. It will simply disable screensaver. 🙂

Once you have your kindle whose screen doesn’t lock you can simply go & execute  a simple nodejs script to push data.

Note : Kindle doesn’t support WebSocket & none of transport methods in socket.io except “polling”. 

Below is nodejs server code :

Below is code of client.html

Voila – It works !

Below is video of working  in case you want to see demo before getting hands dirty 🙂

Warning & Update : This method might consume more power than expected, as experimental browser has loading status – which continuously refreshes a section of the screen. To overcome this problem I will be polling server with long interval difference – which will be adjustable by the server.

Note for nerds :  Since this method uses browser – it’s more flexible – but if you are possessive about power consumption & screen space – You can use JAVA to develop kindlet application. Lightweight pub/sub protocols like MQTT should help you in the way.


photo_20161030_124622Designing a wall holder : 
You can google for covers or design own or use some double sided foam tape. Since i had access to 3d printer i got two of http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:832273 printed & hung it on the wall – it just helped me in reading few books apart from using it only as display. SWAP!    

Use it as :

  • Scoreboard
  • Notification
  • Weather system
  • Wallpaper slideshow
  • News/RSS feeds display
  • Home automation control
  • Anything
  • Book reader 🙂

At the end, even if you place it behind your monitor it won’t hurt or push the new data to your eyes & spoil the code castle you were building.