I am yet to receive my Pi, however I've been looking into what I would like it to do. One of the features I am looking forward to is using it when it is plugged into my TV (via HDMI) to access the internet, and my external hard-drives (all in the vicinity). I would also set up SSH access so that I can get at my external hard-drives from my laptop etc around the house.

It would be really cool if I could SSH into my Pi, using my laptop, to control what is output to the TV (via the HDMI). Is this possible? I would essentially like to use my laptop as a wireless keyboard/mouse input (SSHing either using the terminal, or remote desktop/Xming - whichever this is more likely to work!). Thanks.


I guess what I'm really after is a kind of desktop-sharing program (such as TeamViewer), but that isn't so 'heavy' (in terms of resource). For instance could I initiate an instance of FireFox (for example) via Xterm, yet view it on the TV rather than the laptop that I am SSHing to the Pi from?

TeamViewer (and programs like it) are not adequate solutions because you have to 'accept' that you would want to share your desktop with someone - i.e. I'd still have to plug a keyboard into my Pi to accept the remote desktop. The ideal solution would not require 'acceptance' on the Pi, only a username and password. Thanks.

4 Answers 4


For instance could I initiate an instance of FireFox (for example) via Xterm, yet view it on the TV rather than the laptop that I am SSHing to the Pi from?

What you are describing is the default behavior of an SSH session. If the Pi is connected to the TV and has an X session running, wherever you start an X application from it will use that existing X session.

There are ways to override this behavior, but that goes out of the scope of this question.

As for sharing the mouse and keyboard over SSH, that is quite simple using an application called x2x. This answer I posted on a related question goes into detail about setting up and using it.

  • 2
    I thought that when you SSH into a machine remotely, if you start an application it uses your SSH session (i.e. if I started gimp on my Pi from my laptop, the gimp window would appear on my laptop screen (via Xterm)... Maybe I'm mistaken, as I have yet to receive my Pi, but this is how other linux devices I have used work! 'x2x' looks likes a great solution, but only if you are running linux on the both machines? Is there a windows/putty alternative? Thanks!
    – Luke
    Aug 31, 2012 at 8:20
  • You are mistaken yes. For that behavior you have you use the -Y flag when you connect. That forwards the X clients through the SSH pipe. I'm Linux only I'm afraid, perhaps someone else can suggest a Windows alternative.
    – Jivings
    Aug 31, 2012 at 17:36
  • I believe x2x should work on any X11 server. It's certainly not Linux only as I used to run it on Irix :) Doing ssh X forwarding with putty can be done and you can get an X server, IIRC. Alternatively you might be able to run a full-blown desktop Linux in a VM or virtualized if you don't want to switch away from windows.
    – XTL
    Sep 3, 2012 at 6:59

If you want to share your mouse/keyboard with the RPi but want to run the apps on the RPi you should be able to use Synergy to share the keyboard. This post describes getting it working.

If you want to display your remote system's screen on the RPi I would look into running a VNC client (e.g. TightVNC) on the RPi. See this post.

  • That does sound exactly what I'm after - not come across 'synergy' before. However it is stack exchange protocol to include the 'whole' solution in your answer - otherwise if the link changes, this would no longer be as helpful. Cheers!
    – Luke
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:03
  • I did not include specific instructions because I cannot personally vouch for their accuracy. My hope is that even if the links break there is enough information to start down the path to a solution.
    – Craig
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:24
  • Fair one - once I get my Pi I will be able to confirm whether this works!
    – Luke
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:47

Assuming that you are using the raspbian OS, which comes with the SSH program,and that you have a linux desktop/laptop.


  1. SSH is only for console-access, but either way you can see your activity getting reflected in your TV,which is connected to Pi using HDMI.

  2. To SSH login into your Pi,from your laptop

    $ssh pi@ [Assuming ssh is installed in your laptop/desktop]


    $ssh user name@ip address of the eth0 port

  3. For access to Graphical terminal, you neeed to install VNC Server[tightvncserver] program in your pi.

    $sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

  4. Next, you need to perform a one-time configuration, based on your host[ex:your laptop]

    $vncserver :1 -geometry 1280x800 -depth 16 -pixelformat rgb565

    Note: You need to specify your own screen resolution[i.e 1280*800 in my case].

  5. You will be asked for passwords, entry them accordingly and this concludes the configuration in the server side [Pi in this case].

  6. To view the graphical terminal offered by Pi, we need a receiver like VNC Viewer.

    In Linux Box:

    $sudo apt-get install xtightvncviewer

  7. $vncviewer :[use: 5901 for port]



  8. Thats all..!!


Judging by your question, what you want is to centralize all your files somewhere (lets say desktop A) and you want to also be able to view the movies in those files on your TV (which is where your raspi comes in). My advice is as follows:

  1. Put all your files on desktop A and share them with your raspi using NFS (this step is rather complex, I can help you further if you like)
  2. Buy an ordinary wireless keyboard and use that (no sense using your clunky laptop)
  3. As Jiving mentioned, any command you give it that uses the window will show up on the tv (note that I have not actually tested this myself, I can only confirm this behaviour with the raspi camera and the omxplayer)

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