I have tried looking for a solution for this for a long while.

Here's some background information:

I use Linux on all my desktops/laptops. I have a more laptops that I can possibly use, so I hope to use them as an external monitor to increase working screen area.

Some methods I have experimented with:

  • Synergy and its variants: This might work well for sharing keyboard and mouse between PCs, but is all, what I wish to do is to use the spare screen area on my laptops for extending windows from my desktop to the laptop. While it is possible I could open another window localised on the laptop, but I can't drag and drop IDE features from one computer to another.

  • VNC+Synergy: The VNC option wasn't too helpful as it replicated the desktop, and did not extend it.

  • FreeNX: This was the closest I came to sharing desktops, right until I realised FreeNX spawns a whole new session with an entire brand new desktop on the remote PC, and it doesn't extend/expand the current working area.

Essentially, I'm looking for a software solution. Is there an alternative I've missed out on?

Can FreeNX be configured to extend the current desktop into a 2nd monitor configuration?


What you are looking for is an XDMX kind of technology.


I would (and have) do this workflow in running apps on the secondary laptop "monitor".

  1. Install and configure laptop as a Synergy client.
  2. Start up Synergy and make sure you can control the laptop from the primary workstation.
  3. Make sure SSHD is running on the local workstation with X11 forwarding enabled.
  4. SSH from the 2nd laptop with X11 forwarding.
  5. Start the (GUI) program(s) you want to run on the 2nd laptop display. They will forward over X11, and you can control them through Syngery.

I did this at a company where I had two laptops, and it worked quite well. It's a bit of work to set up, but worth the effort. Of course you'll probably want to set up your ~/.ssh/config along with this for automatically setting SSH settings. I haven't found any software that was much better, if it even provided this functionality, that worked on Linux.


I know this doesn't help for linux, but I frequently use my laptop as a third monitor using MaxiVista.

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