How to redirect screen to PC from raspberry pi

This article is talking about raspbian in raspberry pi and there is lightdm (X Display Manager) in raspbian running by default.

As X system is working over network in nature, so there are many ways to redirect raspberry pi screen and they are as below:

  • Point x-client (it is LXDE @ raspberry pi) to x-server (X-Ming or other x-server @ PC) over network
  • Forward X11 from x-client (it is LXDE @ raspberry pi) to x-server (X-Ming or other x-server @ PC) via SSH
  • Enable XDMCP (X Display Manager Connection Protocol) in raspberry pi
  • Enable VNC in raspberry pi
  • Install XRDP in raspberry pi

Here I only talk the first two ways !


  • Enable lightdm to listen on TCP

lightdm is disable tcp connection by default for security reason, so we need to enable it by login as pi and changing the config of /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Under [Seat:*] section, put xserver-allow-tcp=true and it like below:


After that, restart lightdm by

sudo service lightdm restart

To verify if lightdm enabled tcp, check the process whether there is a nolisten param or not. If everything is fine, we should not find any process under below command:

ps -ef | grep lightdm | grep nolisten
  • Ensure xauth is installed

Checking if xauth is installed by below command:

xauth list

#You should see some output like below
#please noted that 0, 10 is display number and you may get 0 only if X11Forward is not yet enable
raspberrypi/unix:0  MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
raspberrypi/unix:10  MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Otherwise, please install xauth via apt-get and then configure /home/pi/.Xauthority.

Point x-client to x-server over network

In PC, open x-server (X-Ming or others) with a display number. Let say 1. Please noted that you may need set the access control by xhost + if it is linux.

In raspberry pi, login as pi and change the DISPLAY env variable as below:

#export DISPLAY=<pc's IP>:<display number>
export DISPLAY=

Now everything is ready and you can start your x-session by command in raspberry pi.

/usr/bin/lxsession -s LXDE-pi -e LXDE

Forward X11 from x-client to x-server via SSH

  • Configure sshd to enable X11 forwarding

By using SSH X11 Forwarding, you need to add below items in /etc/ssh/sshd_config from raspberry pi.

AllowTcpForwarding yes
X11Forwarding yes
X11DisplayOffset 10

After that, you need restart sshd by below command:

#sshd service is ssh in raspbian ...
sudo service ssh restart
  • Checking if ssh set the DISPLAY env variable properly

After enable X11 forwarding in sshd, now you can ssh to raspberry pi (may be using Putty) with enable X11 Forwarding. In linux, it is ssh -X. After login as pi via ssh, checking if DISPLAY env variable has been set by sshd properly.


#It should showing localhost:10.0
#Please don't set the DISPLAY env variable by yourself
#the sshd will handle it for you automatically (if both ssh client & sshd enabled X11 forwarding)

Otherwise, check the sshd log /var/log/auth.log or /var/log/messages to see if there is any error like below:

sshd[4134]: error: Failed to allocate internet-domain X11 display socket.

If it is the case, then revise the /etc/ssh/sshd_config with AddressFamily inet and restart to try again. Or you may need to use another linux to show the ssh debug message via ssh -vvv -X raspberrypi.

  • Start your x-session

In PC, open x-server (X-Ming or others) with a display number 0. Not any other number this time. (Please noted that you may need set the access control by xhost + before you ssh to raspberry pi if it is linux).

In pi ssh session, type below command to start the x-session. After that, you should see the LXDE screen showing in PC 🙂

/usr/bin/lxsession -s LXDE-pi -e LXDE
  • Start x-session after su to other user like root

In pi ssh session, type below command to get magic cookie:

xauth list

#You should see some output as below
#Please noted that 10 is the display number and we care the cookie only for display number is 10 (due to X11DisplayOffset)
raspberrypi/unix:10  MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Copy the whole line of magic cookie output and then it to your target user like root.

#Switch to your target user, here use root
su -l root

#add the magic cookie from pi to root's xauth data
xauth add raspberrypi/unix:10  MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1  the-actual-cookie-output-from-pi

Set the DISPLAY env variable manually (this is required when you switch to other user after ssh only)

#10 is X11DisplayOffset
export DISPLAY=localhost:10.0

After that, type below command to start the x-session and you should see the LXDE screen showing in PC again.

/usr/bin/lxsession -s LXDE-pi -e LXDE

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