I am not sure if this is possible or useful but I thought I would ask anyway.

I am thinking of getting a new desktop and I wanted to have it set up in my room. I was thinking it would be cool to set up the raspberry pi like a terminal - so you can log into the desktop computer as a user and have access to the more powerful memory etc.

Is this doable or would network latency negate any benefit?

The idea would be that I would be on the computer using it for something, and downstairs another person could log in through the raspberry pi with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and do something else like access the internet.

Let me know if I there are better tags.

  • 1
    The terms you're looking for are "thin client" and "zero client". The idea being that the machine you're logging in from has little or no functionality beyond connecting you to the bigger machine.
    – Paul
    May 20, 2018 at 13:45
  • 1
    Are you thinking in terms of remote desktop, or simply as a character terminal? Also, you mentioned latency so do you mean network connection as opposed to a normal RS-232 terminal (tty) connection)?
    – SDsolar
    May 20, 2018 at 18:51
  • I don't believe this is possible without paying big bucks for Windows Terminal Server or using Linux on the desktop. It is almost trivial if Linux were to be used on the desktop machine.
    – flakeshake
    May 21, 2018 at 6:30

3 Answers 3

  • Install UltraVNC on your PC.
  • Run the following commands on your Raspberry Pi:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xtightvncviewer

Now start UltraVNC on your PC and xtightvncviewer on your Raspberry and you've turned the Raspberry into a thin client.


You can use ANY computer as a terminal; indeed I did this in the mid 1970s using various basic 8bit micros as serial terminals.

It is also possible to emulate any protocol; VT52, VT100 were popular serial protocols, and we also did SNA to talk to IBM mainframes.

The Pi (and most Linux machines) come with VNC which can be uses as an xterminal to remote GUI desktops. See VNC

  • Thanks Milliways so what your saying is if i boot up the Pi and log into the other computer from it, the reverse pattern of almost every tutorial I see, then it will run fine. Could you clarify if there would be much lag or any issues? I assume I wont be playing 3d games, but will it play Youtube videos fine? Any advice would be appreciated.
    – Totoro
    May 20, 2018 at 12:26
  • @Totoro Search this Forum using tag VNC you will find many posts on setting up VNC. I never use Youtube, so can't comment, but the processing is done on the host, only the display is remote. There will obviously be some delay (depending on network speed)
    – Milliways
    May 20, 2018 at 12:55
  • Note also that the desktop would need to be configured to listen to the VNC connection, and depending on the OS and your network there may be additional configuration of firewall rules, etc to work through.
    – Paul
    May 20, 2018 at 13:43

I didn't understand your question properly. But I think what you're looking for is SSH (Secure Shell) . As long as your Pi and the comp you want to access the Pi from are on the same network you'll be able to access the Pi from the desired comp . You can learn about SSH here

  • Hello RishiC, thanks for the answer but it is not quite what I was asking. I have found many tutorials for how to access the raspberry pi from a desktop. What I want to do is use the raspberry pi as a terminal to access the desktop computer as a second user. Thanks for the advice though.
    – Totoro
    May 20, 2018 at 11:45
  • @Totoro , you can also do it the other way around: access the desktop computer from the raspberry pi through ssh.You'd just have to install an ssh server on the desktop computer, then you could easily login to your desktop computer from the pi. You would not get the desktop(GUI), though, just the terminal. You could install a VNC server on the desktop computer if you wanted to use the GUI. May 20, 2018 at 16:53
  • Good answers seldom start with "I didn't understand your question properly." A better solution would have been to ask for clarification via the comments. May 20, 2018 at 23:18

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