How to get some more mileage out of that older computer you just don’t want to ditch – Pls see update at bottom


What you need:

  • One half-decent computer, preferably powerful enough to stream videos and music
  • Another old, mediocre computer with not too much RAM or processing power

What to do:

  • Install the free VNC Server on your best computer
  • Install the free VNC Viewer on your mediocre computer

That should give you responsive graphical support. Meaning… the mediocre computer can be used as a dummy keyboard to control the better computer.

The advantage is that the best computer does all the heavy processing and just beams the final signal to your mediocre computer, which should respond quickly (because it’s only processing a finished product).

But what about sound?

Yes, you need sound too. I tested several remote desktop apps that include sound but sadly, they all had unacceptable graphics lag for serious writing.

They were okay for watching the news (sound was generally synced with picture) but for typing, where you just cannot have graphics lag, they didn’t do very well.

So my solution is to use VLC media player for sound (along with VNC for graphics).

How to use VLC media player to stream sound:

  • Install the free VLC media player on both computers
  • On the best computer, go to “Media” >> “Open Capture Device” and fill in the wizard with the appropriate details (this can be a bit tricky but Googling how to do it worked for me)
  • On the mediocre computer, go to “Media” >> “Open Network Stream” and again, fill in the correct particulars (this takes guidance but Googling also worked for me – Note – set audio caching time to ZERO)

What does this give you?

You’ve got an old, mediocre remote computer that now works fast and also has good quality sound, all piped in from the best computer. This configuration is best for writing and, say, listening to music.

If you can tolerate a touch of audio lag, it’s fine for watching news videos too. Although I wouldn’t watch a drama this way—I have watched parts of hockey games, after all, I am Canadian! 😊

VNC Viewer and VLC Media Player also have Android, Apple and Linux apps. So you can securely use this remote desktop strategy not only with your old PC but also with your tablet, phone or iPad too.

Go green! Recycle! Save money!

It’s using free software and reusing old hardware instead of buying new, expensive hardware. The sensible way to go!

All of my blogging today at Earthpages.org, including this post, was achieved via this fantastic method. If anyone is serious about this and needs a bit of help, feel free to comment.

Update – March 6, 2020

Around the time of writing this, I experienced some graphical lag issues when connecting two computers with Real VNC but this only occurred when the Server PC was 64-bit (Windows) and the Viewer PC was 32-bit (Linux).

Previously, I had rarely if ever experienced any issues with Real VNC of this magnitude and I thought it might have been a temporary bug. Last night and today I tested the connection and it was still unsatisfactory with a 64-bit Server PC (running Windows or Linux) and the 32-bit Viewer running Linux.

I’m not sure if this is just my particular PCs. There are many factors involved in a good remote connection. Possibly Real VNC will update their apps to remedy the situation. In the meantime, a 64-bit Server (Windows or Linux) with a 64-bit Viewer (Linux) still works great for me. All of my blogging today was done using this method. 😊

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