Saturday, April 17, 2010

preliminary spec: using old headless laptop as a network kbd+mouse

I'm pretty tired (at 1PM on a saturday. how lame!) but I'm scoping out an idea to use old headless laptops to work as mouse+kbd. I have a headless thinkpad t20 with pxe support (I think) that would work nicely for this.

These are notes mostly for myself on how this thing oughta work. I'll probably use OpenWRT with a uicat/client package (which I need to write) with uiclient autostarting.

Eventually this could be expanded into a full "drone" distribution capable of being a remote video player. Probably still OpenWRT based with a LUCI interface to set up wireless networking(?) although that needs non-volatile storage. But that doesn't have to be on the actual drone...

Now to get my brain together enough to write this silly thing... ;)


- Old laptop, booting via IDE-CF, USB, memory-loading CD, or network. Network must be present and support DHCP.

- (new) uicat (uinput cat, ala netcat) - can work with netcat to stream mouse/kbd in either direction.

- (new) uiclient (uinput client) - like uicat, but with extra commands on the client side.

Using a suitably loaded Linux, the uinput-drone system will automatically start. "blind" operation is fully supported (think headless laptop) and a special key sequence can be used to link up to a uicat "server" listening for a connection on a given port.

Once the Linux is loaded, the num lock LED will blink every second. Then press the caps lock key and the capslock LED will blink instead. Then type in the IP address of the target computer, and hit return (or escape to abort on a typo). It will then try to connect to the target, and if it works all two/three LED's will blink for one second. If an error occurs it will probably just go back to blinkiing num-lock.

After that, all input events will be 'tunneled' over the network and they will look like native events to the other computer.

To end a session, use control-capslock-enter? Something that isn't commonly used at least.


V2 of the uidrone system will support xorg (newest) with mplayer? so that it can be used as a remote video player as well. This mode would be quite useful for TV out, since many older laptops have S-Video output we can probably use.

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