As the title says, I want to use a laptop as the primary display for a desktop PC. There's a few added challenges to this, however:

  • The desktop PC does not have a display device of its own. By extension, I am not looking for a secondary monitor, but a primary monitor.
  • The laptop is a 2007 Dell XPS M1530, and does not have a hard drive installed. I'll elaborate my approach to this issue later on this post.
  • I would simply buy a LCD control board (like this https://i.imgur.com/VIZclRc.jpg ) and hardware hack the laptop into "just" a monitor, but my country's absurd import restrictions leave me without that option.

After some research, the only plausible solution I've found was (these points is what I need help with):

  • Have the laptop boot into a persistent lightweight Linux distro stored on a flash drive. This way it can be used without a hard drive.
  • On this same laptop, set up a remote desktop viewer via LAN so automatically after log in, it connects and goes fullscreen.
  • While setting up the Windows computer to automatically send its video output via LAN on startup. Or of course If you have another idea that can achieve the same results, by all means it's welcome.

Some additional notes:

  • The laptop is physically next to the desktop PC, so input devices can be connected directly to the desktop PC. I only need the video (maybe audio as well?) signal to be sent via LAN.
  • This setup will be used almost exclusively for web browsing, so it can deal with a few milliseconds of latency.
  • I have another, "complete" desktop computer to set up stuff with (such as loading the Linux distro into a flash drive, and a display to connect to the display-less desktop when needed).
  • And "why not just buy a display?" Because budget is on the negative range, but I do have the hardware required for this.

This sounds doable, but I've spent most of yesterday working on this with little success. Setting up the LAN remote desktop view to even start working has been unexpectedly difficult. Keep in mind I need a cross-platform solution (Windows desktop PC host, Linux laptop guest).

Any help will be amply appreciated.

  • possible duplicate of Can I use my laptop as a second monitor? – DavidPostill Jun 28 '15 at 17:24
  • Please read more carefully. I don't want to use the laptop as 2nd monitor, but as a primary monitor for a desktop PC, which in turn does not have a monitor. Also worth noting, the laptop does not have a hard drive. Thus differentiating it further from the question you've linked. – PsykoTenshi Jun 28 '15 at 19:02

Try this thread, it's pretty much the exact same thing you're asking for. Sorry, but this question might be a duplicate. Anyways, I hope this helps!

  • It is not. I've found plethora of ways/software to do that already. This situation is different in the desktop PC does not have a monitor, and I'm looking into how to use the laptop as such. Also, for is help to do as I've listed on the three point list on the 1st post. I'll edit it to be even clearer, if I can even do that further. – PsykoTenshi Jun 28 '15 at 19:10
  • I understand that you need to use it as the primary monitor, but it does not actually matter. The point is, you're getting a screen to show up on the laptop, and from there you can configure it to use the laptop as the primary monitor. If you can get a screen from the desktop to show up on the laptop at all, that's a great starting spot. – Sourec Jun 28 '15 at 20:54
  • However, the laptop's hardware specs aren't really good, and more importantly, its "hard drive" currently is a SD card. This pretty much discards running Windows on it, so the screen "mirroring" solution must be compatible with both Windows and Linux. I've been trying VNC, but given I've never used it before, I'm not exactly great at networking and most tutorials I've found omit information I don't know, it's being tricky to say the least. – PsykoTenshi Jun 28 '15 at 21:28

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