I have a very old, not very fast laptop. (The screen and keyboard work well, but the hard drive is dying and the RAM's getting slow). The other day an idea struck me: could I use the screen/keyboard of the laptop with the Pi?

I am mainly looking to control the screen, the keyboard would be an added bonus.

I don't specially want to take the laptop apart, what I'm looking for is some sort of cable and/or program I can run on the laptop, (Windows), that would allow me to use the screen and/or keyboard.

The resolution/quality may not be very good, but that is not an issue.

I realise this may be impossible, however it would make using the Pi much easier.

  • 1
    This is confusing. Does the laptop work or not?
    – Jivings
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 14:29
  • @Jivings very good point. Its the hard drive and partially RAM that doesn't work well, the screen/keyboard are fine. I've edited the question.
    – ACarter
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


You could enable the ssh server, set the Pi up To have a fixed ip address, then just connect to the Pi with a newtork cable. An alternative to ssh would be vnc, so you could use a graphic ui

This relies on the laptop working, but the programs will use very little memory, and probably no disk access, so slow will be fine

Setting up ssh on the Pi has been explained really well in this answer. It's the answer I used to get mine working.

I don't know how to set vnc up, so I can't help with that, but you might find this link of interest

  • This sounds great! (Sorry for the late reply) Can you give any more info on how to set it up with SSH/VNC?
    – ACarter
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 15:23

The short answer is yes. Kind of anyway. You would have to make your own cable and find drivers, but you're only looking at maybe 30 minutes of work to make the cable (for the monitor, anyway). As for the keyboard, that depends on how the laptop is constructed and can't be done without opening the case. It would be easier to ignore the keyboard and get a Rii mini i8+ or similar portable keyboard (there are fold up and roll up ones and even ones that project a keyboard on any physical surface that use lasers and camera sensors to sense your finger movements instead of 40+ physical buttons hooked to a microcontroller).

The long answer: thanks to the I/O pin-outs, you can interface literally any electronic controller, microcontroller, sensor, component, or device you can put your hands on with a raspberry pi and basic programming knowledge (you gotta know how to make drivers unless you know someone else that can/will or find a pre-existing driver for the device). If you can navigate a circuit/wiring diagram, use a multimeter, hot air gun, and soldering iron, and/or can code or source drivers and hardware control software, your imagination and the hardware benchmarks are your only limitations with raspberry pi.

  • "thanks to the I/O pin-outs, you can interface literally any electronic controller" is quite wrong in fact. There are many interfaces which won't work with 3.3V. Or require differential signalling. Or are way too fast for the RPi to deal with. And even if you manage to connect something to the RPi properly from electrical standpoint, "finding the right drivers" may take much more than 30 minutes, and there's no guarantee you will ever succeed. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 13:04

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