Requirement: I will install standalone pc units running Windows XP Pro in venues to basically auto play music playlists through scheduling. To restrict access, the unit will not have a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

To setup and maintain the units onsite (multiple locations), rather than have to carry a monitor, keyboard and mouse everywhere (unpack and repack etc), I would like to use a laptop for example for the purpose of display, keyboard & control of the PC unit. I thought this would be simple but it appears it is not.

I thought perhaps an iPad with touch screen keyboard etc would be suitable through USB connection but this looks doubtful.

Wifi at the venues is not guaranteed so discount this option.

What solutions if any are available to me that are simple to use (USB or lan cable connection), cost effective (any additional cost increases the service and product costs) and multi-language (i.e. any Windows XP Pro language version will work).

If additional information is required, please ask.

  • Can I please also add, just in case I have not been clear, the pc unit will be usename/password protected for access and therefore until this is input, XP (or whatever OS) will not be operating. If my memory serves me right, RDP 'needs" the remote station to be open - yes? I am looking for the laptop control to have access for screen and keyboard from bootup.
    – Liam
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 5:24

2 Answers 2


Not a duplicate but my answer here might be a start

One 'nice' thing about the professional version of Windows XP is that it has support for a basic, single user RDP client, and its pretty fast.

If you're bringing along a laptop, and it runs Windows, you can connect over ethernet and use RDP/remote desktop client - with modern systems it's pretty fast. You will need to set up a static IP on the standalone units, and set up an IP address in the same range, and of course, remember the range you're using.

Its also reasonably secure since you need a username and password to log on into the systems - make sure the system is set to lock the screen when not in use, and password protect that (using a screensaver? )

With Windows 7 it was necessary to open the firewall, but YMMV with Windows XP.

If you want to use an iPad its tricker, since you won't have use of ethernet on it.

Costwise... Free, unless you need an additional ethernet port, and a cable, since it uses things built into windows.

Hypothetically, if you didn't have ethernet, FireWire could do the same, or wifi (but that's explicitly not on the scope of the answer). If you didn't have XP pro (say you were stuck with home), swap RDP for some flavour of VNC, though its less secure.

You don't, in general need a KVM for basic things - I think RDP or VNC is sufficient in this case.

  • From your answer, thank you, you make it sound as easy as I 1st thought it would be and yet PC boffins (sorry boffins lol) say I can't use a laptop in that way (unless spend a lot of money on KVM etc). I do not have a laptop to try this out to make sure it works right now. I will attempt to create a test. My requirement I think is simple. Nothing ever is though is it?
    – Liam
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 3:08
  • you can test it between a XP Pro (or Windows 7 Pro, or whatever version of Vista's equivilent to it ) system (as the 'server') and pretty much anything that supports RDP.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 3:50

Here's the solution - install Win2k3 server on the standalone units so that boot ups and reboots are fine since any XP based pc/laptop using RDP must still log in as though they were at the base units login screen.

In other words, booting up 2k3 server lands you at a username/password login screen. By pre-adding a specific IP address, username & password (for log in) in the 2k3, an XP laptop with the right IP, username and password will see the login screen of the 2k3 base unit and be able to start the 2k3 windows session.

For security, I need a login boot page and using RDP adds extra security through setting an IP for RDP connection to whatever I want.

Using RDP from an XP to XP, the base unit XP I am trying to control (from a windows login screen) "must" be fully open before the laptop can connect and control.

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