Raspberry Pi 2 with iPad as a primary display

Published on Author Tomas StibranyLeave a comment

I have bought a Raspberry Pi 2 for me with the desire to use it as a portable desktop computer.

After setting up a new SD card with the newest Raspbian image and all the hardware (wifi, bluetooth keyboard) I began to search for a remote desktop application which would allow me connect to RasPi from another computer and ultimately from an iPad. The trick is I wanted to control my Raspberry Pi with a physical keyboard and mouse and use iPad only as display.


First thing we need to install is a program which will allow us to remotely connect to our RasPi. It’s called x11vnc and here is a great tutorial on how to auto install it.

Download it  here.

This tutorial  points you to download and run a script which sets up x11vnc and even configures it to auto start after booting into desktop so you don’t have to worry about  it.

After installing the x11vnc you need to know your Pi’s IP address. Just type this into terminal:


And look for inet-addr.

Next up, iPad. Install a free application called VNC Viewer.
Open it up, Add a new connection and hit connect.

If your iPad and Raspberry Pi share the same internet connection you should be able to see your desktop now.

No mouse cursor?

If you don’t see your mouse cursor when you move with your physical mouse, don’t worry. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Open up File Manager and navigate to /home/pi directory.
  2.  Enable showing of hidden files and directories: View -> Show Hidden
  3. Go to: /home/pi/.config/autostart
  4. Open X11VNC in a text editor and add a -nocursorshape parameter to x11vnc so it looks something like this:

Exec=x11vnc -nocursorshape -overlay -forever -usepw -display :0 -ultrafilexfer

5) Reboot your Pi, connect from your iPad and you should see your mouse move.

What about screen resolution?

It happened to me that the screen resolution I got to see on my iPad looked like it was something like 640×480.
In this case we can change the frame buffer resolution using the fbset.
And because we would need to do it after every startup, we schedule
a task with crontab which will do this for us.

  1. In your terminal run this command which will edit crontab
    crontab -e
  2. Add this line to the bottom of the file
    @reboot /bin/fbset -g 1920 1080 1920 1080 16


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