Raspberry Pi gets overlay support in RealVNC

May 10, 2016 // 3:13 p.m.

Tags: #kodi #minecraft-pi #omxplayer #raspberry-pi #raspberry-pi-foundation #realvnc #vnc

The Raspberry Pi Foundation and RealVNC have jointly announced the development of a new VNC server for the eponymous single-board computer which allows directly-rendered images to be viewed over a network for the first time.

The Raspberry Pi has long been known for its powerful graphics processor, which goes back to the Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip (SoC) at the heart of the original models being designed for multimedia set-top boxes. Accordingly, there are plenty of packages to run on the Pi which take advantage of this power - including Minecraft Pi, a quickly-abandoned yet still popular variant of Mojang's Minecraft which has won favour with educators. There's a catch, however: packages like Minecraft Pi run on the graphics processor in such a way that their images cannot be captured. You can't take screenshots, you can't record a screen capture, and you can't view them over a network connection via VNC - the latter being a common method for interacting with a Pi from existing computer hardware without having to disconnect keyboards, mice, and monitor inputs.

A new preview release of RealVNC Server, avaialble now on GitHub, solves this problem: using this version it's possible to access anything which runs on a directly-rendered overlay, providing the software is running in service mode. Combined with hardware acceleration support, that means it's now possible to play Minecraft Pi, watch omxplayer videos, use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module, or even interact with the text-based consoles or software like Kodi without having to physically connect a display to the machine.

RealVNC has warned that the software is still in an alpha stage, with no launch window given for a stable release boasting the same functionality.
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