Need to display desktop from server vm to several rooms (Ethernet)

I've currently dived into the world of visualization. i have now decided that i would like to run 2 vms on my server which will be hidden in my garage.

my dilemma is how i am supposed to get display to 2 different rooms over nothing but ethernet.
I've done some research and i found out about 2 ways i can achieve this.

  • RDP with thin/zero clients
  • HDMI over IP (POE solutions available!)

however it is my understanding that the first will give you a sub par experience (while cheaper)
I've seen raspberry pis run RDP with moon light working just fine. however it is not as responsive in the desktop environment.

and the second is more responsive but a lot more expensive. the justaddpower solution cost 1400 just for the receiver. and 1300 for the transmitter. far off my budget as i would need 2 receivers.

i need one receiver to do work and for normal media consumption.
the other is for gaming and media consumption with possible 4k upgrades in the future.

any advise is welcome, my budget is anything up to 550 aud for 2 receivers and 1 transmitting device. (of any sort)

edit: are there ARM solutions more capable than a PI 2 that can do RDP smoothly? (gig ethernet)

If you just want to do gaming, would a Steam Link box not do the job? And just FYI, gaming performance on a VM is going to suck unless you do some kind of hardware passthrough to give it an actual graphics card. So unless you're playing DOS games or something, don't invest money in it until you're sure the VM hardware plays games well.

Edit: Forgot to add that it's probably very low latency and reasonable affordable to use something like this, providing you can get HDMI out from the VM to feed into it.

I know from experience that low-latency HD streaming via IP is not easy, especially via wireless. Your best option is probably to use Steam Streaming or NVIDIA gamestream/limelight. Don't try it with UDP, I did and it was a tremendous waste of time for low latency stuff. I can't speak for RTP but I expect the results would be similar.

well i was thinking more along the lines of having the receiver dump the windows desktop environment so that i can run even origin or GOG games if i choose to. also i want to be able to send instances of plex vms or kodi vms through the receiver if i could. i've seen this done, using RDP where you can have multiple configs, for each vm set up.

oh yea the server is plenty capable. i'm testing unraid to passthrough my 7870 so far it seems promising. however i dont know how the experience will be 'remotely'.

i don't use wireless. its crap and expensive where i live. and I've got cat 6a so i'm hoping that this will dramatically improve my options.

thanks for the recommendation but i think your solution won't work because there's about a good 10 metres and 3 walls between server and display. so this wont be ideal for me.

You could try one of those HDMI over Ethernet things...theyre pretty cheap on Amazon and would be very little latency. As far as RDP, I think the way that works is really bad for games...definitely do post if you figure something out though, this seems like a neat project

will post if i find a solution. currently trialing pi RDP doesn't look too great. i'll see what i can dig up.

I was thinking about this for a while and decided to come back and post. I have a college buddy who does something similar to this actually. I should say that if you're trying to 100% virtualize everything, it seems like you might have a hard time. RDP is really really good in this day and age but it just won't fool a session on native hardware just yet.

So here's what he did, his setup is currently his gaming rig in his bedroom, from which in the end he purchased an extra network card so that he could directly connect his receiver in a 'crossover' setup. His network environment, while really, really good, would still introduce hiccups at random times for no reason whatsoever. So he eliminated it altogether.

His receiver is actually an Nvidia Shield Android TV thing, and he uses that with Moonlight and game stream to remotely game and uses it for desktop stuff as well. I've seen him use it, and although you mentioned that desktop streaming is slow, I didn't notice any problems really. At least no worse than a standard RDP session.

Now, back to the comment about how doing everything over virtualization might be difficult. Game and desktop streaming is the only thing he uses remotely. Because it is an Android device, of course there are Plex, Kodi, etc, apps available for it and he runs those natively. I think with the intent of how those applications are supposed to be used, that is a better scenario anyway, so you might consider it.

The only real issue you might experience with a setup like that would be that moonlight does not handle mouse and keyboard input correctly. Android doesn't have the best keyboard/mouse support and doesn't allow applications to bind to them exclusively so gaming with mouse/keyboard might require a separate solution such as USB over IP or something of the sort. Also the Shield TV is reasonably pricey, but you could probably get by with something like an Asus nexus player.

crossover cables wont work for me. the technician who installed my cat cabling used tamper proof conduits. this is because the conduits in question were run outside my house. so unless i have an ultra long snake i doubt i'm going to be able to use crossover and i really dont want to bastardize the jack from the wall to achieve this :(
also i dont have nvidia cards laying around. moonlight requires an nvdia card afaik

but fret not i figured out a way to get the best of both worlds. i did some research on steam link and found out that it is possible to exit big picture mode and use the desktop. latency was in the 20 ms range for desktop and input latency was around 5 more. including the screen or HDTV latency it adds up to about 30-50 ms of additional latency. streams were also stutter-free.

and considering that the steam link is 50 usd. it can be considered a minor investment.

i also found out that you can add non-steam games to stream. reddit was my friend, fifa 16 works reportedly. however there were controller issues. i expect these will be fixed in beta. there are reports that the latest beta fixed xbox 360 controllers however, they may be broken again.

i'm also doing testing with splashtop. i suspect this might provide an adequate experience for desktop use. so far this seems to be the cheapest way of doing it.

so to summise.

  • steam link for gaming (orgin and uplay possible.)
  • splashtop for desktop use.
    might try a few other rdp programs with thin clients and see if performance can be improved

  • my existing nexus player will take care of media consumption. (will upgrade this to enable 4k one day.)