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Old September 21, 2010, 04:12 PM
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Default Simultaneous multi-user PC

Not sure of a proper way to name it, but I'll try to describe it.

These days we are seeing CPUs with a lot more cores than we need, SSDs that are capable incredible reads and writes, and larger amounts of RAM. Especially so for users that do very little, such as browsing the web.

So rather than building several computers for each user to do simple tasks, I was thinking it may be possible to allow several users to use 1 computer. They would have their own monitor, keyboard/mouse, OS, etc. Yet, still power off from 1 single decent computer.
Example. 1 user wants to use windows. The other user wants to use Ubuntu. And 1 more wants to use Leopard and the hardware happens to be compatible with everything.

I suspect that this is more than just a software limitation. And it'd sure save a lot of electricity and money.
Is there anything like this in the making or already exists?
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Old September 21, 2010, 04:21 PM
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I'm pretty sure you'd still need to use dumb terminals of some sort.... kinda like going back to the 1980's all over. :)

Software wise.... it could be kludged together using multiple VMs with each individual VM "stickied" to a particular monitor (restricted to your max supported monitors), but I can't imagine how you'd get around input devices like mice/keyboards. I'm pretty sure I've seen software out there that claimed to be able to do it, but certainly nothing mainstream that I can think of.

This google search might point you in the right direction.... ;)

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Old September 21, 2010, 07:19 PM
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Dual Mouse & keyboard | Download Dual Mouse & keyboard software for free at SourceForge.net

you can try this. Did not try it myself.. but if it happens to work --> build 2 virtual machine (I like virtualbox, it's a freeware) and maxime each of 'em on a monitor and you're ready to go.
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Old September 21, 2010, 07:25 PM
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Run a host OS that supports multi-user environments. Pretty sure Linux does (which distribution that is would be another matter) and Windows Server does. And no, desktop OS'es aren't multi-user, they merely switch between users. As such, they'd remote into these over the network and could all be logged into the same server that is of course assuming that everyone could agree to use Windows/Linux, then they could just use the OS directly. Of course, you'd need "dumb terminals" for them to use with monitor, keyboard and mouse. I'd grab some of those cheap Atom-powered boxes that attach to the back of monitors.

Sharing 1 computer directly may be difficult though, mainly due to the input issues. However if you can figure that out, then by all means it's feasible.

If you go the VM route, I'd say run ESX Server (or similar hypervisors) on a rather powerful PC, and again have dumb terminals to RDP/VNC/whatever into the VMs that the user needs.
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Old September 21, 2010, 07:50 PM
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I've heard the term coined before in 2007... called a multi-head computer. It was accomplished using Linux. The limitations with this multi-headed computer were the number of PCI slots (1 slot per video card per head [user]).
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Old September 21, 2010, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoungMan View Post
These days we are seeing CPUs with a lot more cores than we need, SSDs that are capable incredible reads and writes, and larger amounts of RAM. Especially so for users that do very little, such as browsing the web.

So rather than building several computers for each user to do simple tasks, I was thinking it may be possible to allow several users to use 1 computer. They would have their own monitor, keyboard/mouse, OS, etc. Yet, still power off from 1 single decent computer.
Example. 1 user wants to use windows. The other user wants to use Ubuntu. And 1 more wants to use Leopard and the hardware happens to be compatible with everything.

I suspect that this is more than just a software limitation. And it'd sure save a lot of electricity and money.
I still wouldn't do it.

I would rather have 4 ITX atom setups than what you are describing even if just for redundancy
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Old September 21, 2010, 08:51 PM
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yeah, i wouldn't do it either. It's an interesting concept... but technology has moved in the OTHER direction too! ... making the thin clients "thinner" in their energy consumption and power.

I propose that 6 energy efficient atom client computers use less energy than a six-head mega tower. For a fraction of the headache, which also costs energy!!! and Tylenol!!!! ;)
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Old September 22, 2010, 01:22 PM
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Ah, yes. Multi-head, that's the term I was looking for. Thanks.

Somehow I was under the impression it was possible to use a single video card, that supports several outputs, to deal with the displays. And use wireless keyboard/mice.
I guess it is better to just build some atom boxes instead.

Thanks everyone.
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Old September 22, 2010, 03:11 PM
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I am not sure of why anyone would want to use the same pc at the same time. and unless you used something like a Virtual machine for each individual I would imagine that it would or could create havoc to which ever OS was being used say one person was downloading torrent files while the other was downloading something else or installing an application they wanted to use while the other was downloading something important and when the application finished the install it needed to reboot . nah PCs are fairly cheap now days things like net books and the like are a better option because all you need to do is make sure that the battery is charged an d you can use them pretty much anywhere
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Old September 22, 2010, 07:54 PM
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reading your post shadowmeph i don't think you fully understand the concept. google multi-head computers, or multi-seat computer to see what the OP is actually talking about. It's a single high powered computer logically split into multiple distinct operating systems... rebooting one will not reboot the entire cluster.
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