Possible Duplicate:
Can I use my laptop as a second monitor for my desk computer?

My PC's monitor just died and I'm not looking at buying a new monitor anytime soon. So I'm thinking of using my laptop's monitor for it. Both machines are running on Fedora linux.

Edit: Both machines are connected to the same wireless network. PC needs to log in before it can connect to the network if I'm not mistaken.

Update: This is different from Can I use my laptop as a second monitor for my desk computer? , because that question is asking how to use the laptop screen as the secondary display, not as the only display.

marked as duplicate by ChrisF, random May 22 '10 at 13:15

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I don't think it is possible, but if you can connect the two computers by network, you can set up VPN or remote desktop on your desktop, and use it from the laptop. Unless you need the video card capabilities of your desktop, of course. – petersohn May 21 '10 at 18:44
  • A VPN won't help here, as it only establishes a private network between the two machines. Perhaps you meant VNC? VNC server would need to be installed on the desktop, and a VNC client on the laptop. – 8BitsOfGeek May 21 '10 at 19:16
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    I don't think this is an exact duplicate. The solutions to the other question primarily revolve around Windows, but Randell is running Linux on both computers. – rob May 24 '10 at 20:45
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    Those who closed this question didn't even read the cases. – Randell May 27 '10 at 23:25
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    reopen request here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51519/… – rob May 28 '10 at 3:05

There are a number of open source software projects that create software that allows you to control multiple computers using just the keyboard and mouse of one of the computers. The best known is probably Synergy:


There are some others that people advocate, as well as some forks of Synergy that people prefer to Synergy itself.

Just remoting into the PC using VNC might be enough for your needs, too.

[Edit: SORRY, after thinking a moment I realize Synergy is not at all what you want. Synergy would allow you to control the PC from your laptop's keyboard (which is great) but it would generally be used in dual-monitor situation where your pc also had its own monitor. VNC is solution you want if you want to see the PC"s display on your laptop display. ]


Linux is easy; just use X forwarding over an SSH connection. From your laptop:

ssh -X otherpc
kicker (this will give you the taskbar if you're running KDE)


ssh -X otherpc
gnome-session (this will give you the GNOME desktop if you're running GNOME)

When you run the above commands and launch applications from the window manager's taskbar/menubar, the applications will be displayed locally. In addition, any X application you launch from the ssh -X'd terminal will be displayed locally.

If you were using Windows, you could use MaxiVista's monitor cloning/desktop mirroring feature to do exactly what you want. Unfortunately, it's not free--but since you're using Linux, you don't need it ;)

  • Synergy (which I mentioned in my separate post) is open source software that works very much like MaxiVista. It's also cross platform so even better in that respect. – Herbert Sitz May 21 '10 at 19:00
  • I like Synergy, but I don't think it will help in the current scenario. MaxiVista is different from Synergy. Synergy allows you to use a single keyboard and mouse to control two computers, each with its own display. MaxiVista lets you configure one computer as a display for the other. Synergy does not allow you to do this. – rob May 21 '10 at 19:02
  • @rob -- Thanks, yes, I just realized Synergy is not at all what he's looking for (and changed my other post). Using ssh client looks like interesting solution, I may try that myself. – Herbert Sitz May 21 '10 at 19:05
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    Normally it should automatically connect to the network upon bootup. But if that's not the case, try this: If you press Ctrl+Alt+F1, you will get a console login. Then you can type your username and password. Assuming you know the exact commands to turn on the network (i.e., sudo /sbin/ifconfig eth0 up), you can get the desktop computer on the network without a monitor. After that, you can ssh into the computer and perform any additional configuration tasks so you won't have to perform this "blind" login from now on. – rob May 21 '10 at 19:41
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    I forgot to mention, you can get your X display back by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F7. (console displays are F1-F6, and X displays are F7-F12) – rob May 21 '10 at 19:58

Short answer: bite the bullet and buy a cheap used monitor in order to log in, then set up remote console.

You can make it easy by going to Goodwill, CraigsList, or some other used merchandise place and find a used CRT monitor. Since people are paying to get rid of them (e.g. $20 recycle fee?), you should be able to get something pretty cheap. It doesn't have to be great, just enough resolution to get you logged into the box so you can fire up the software/network based solutions.

If this is a Windows box, by all means set it up to host remote desktop, setting it to use whatever resolution is comfortable for you. If Windows, Linux or Mac, you should be able to set up vncserver to do the same thing. Either way, you can get an RDC or VNC client to run on your laptop and use the desktop remotely.

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