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Old 06-10-2008, 01:14 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2008
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Recycling an old laptop to create a second monitor/external terminal console?

I have a PC that runs linux, and an old laptop that doesn't run anything. Is there any way I can
1) Plug in the laptop to my PC and use it as a monitor to display a terminal?
2) Just rip out the screen and connect it to my PC to display a terminal. and control it with the PC keyboard?
My ultimate goal is to create something like a digital picture frame that, instead of pictures, displays a command line, so I can watch code compile or something and type in commands while surfing the web or watching a DVD or something.
Google searches have been confusing as I don't really know what I need to search for. There might be a term or something I just don't know. So if anyone could just give me a nudge in the right direction it would be helpful.

Last edited by Romanus81; 06-10-2008 at 01:15 PM.
Old 06-10-2008, 01:22 PM   #2
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Raleigh, NC
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1) Im not sure how you would do that
2) No. I wish that were possible. I have a few old laptop LCDs laying around that I would love to be able to connect to a PC.

I've made a few Digital Picture Frames out of old laptops, the most advanced had a wireless card in it so I could ssh into it and change the pictures or even have it display a looping radar image from

I dont know why you would need something like a DPF for what you are doing.. Just install linux on the laptop and configure the wireless card, how do you want to watch code compile? Compile it on one machine then watch it on the laptop?
Old 06-10-2008, 06:18 PM   #3
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It's just that I love to modify and hack and add things to my linux OS, but I also like to be able to chat with friends and browse the internet and things. (I also like the white on black full screen terminal look over a small terminal windows on my desktop) I just think it would be a lot easier to have a second monitor for sole use as a terminal.
Old 06-11-2008, 03:10 PM   #4
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The laptop works, right?

If the laptop is broken, then it might not be possible to do what you want. Obviously, if the display is broken then it's a non-starter.

If the laptop works, then you can use it as a second monitor in a number of ways. The method I use is synergy.

Synergy is a cross-platform program which lets you control multiple computers from a single keyboard/mouse. You set up your main computer as the synergy server, and you set up the other computers as synergy clients. The mouse/keyboard of the synergy server can control all of the other computers. You simply move the cursor off the edge of one screen to enter another screen. It's like a multi-monitor setup, except each of the monitors is actually a different computer.

On the laptop, you can open up an xterm and ssh into your main computer. Thus, the laptop doesn't really do anything other than accept remote keyboard/mouse input, and displaying a terminal interface ssh'd into your main computer.

You can also run remote X applications in any of several ways. However, if you mainly just want a terminal display, then running an xterm and ssh'ing into your main computer is the most efficient solution. Note that synergy will forward the clipboard. You can cut/copy on one computer and then paste on another computer.

Synergy is a wonderful alternative to multi-head, especially if you have laptops and/or you need to use multiple operating systems.


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