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Re: one machine - multiple users, monitors, keyboards, mice ...

David Morse wrote:
I would like to take my rediculously over-powered computer, and have it usable by two people at the same time. I'd like to hook up two monitors, two keyboards, and two mice, and run a display manager like xdm on each monitor. I vaguely recall some hooks for this in X, like saying 'xterm -display ork:0.0', where if I changed the '0.0' to '1.1' I'd get the second monitor and keyboard on that particular host. But I forget what this is called.

"Multi-head" seems to imply "mono-body" -- one user, one mouse, one kbd, just two monitors.

I guess I want to know THE REAL NAME for "Multi-body" -- two users, two mice, two kbds. (err... and one video card with multiple VGA adapters).

You are looking for what I have: Backstreet Ruby:




You can put up to 16 monitors/keyboards/mice on 1 PC.
I use 2 Nvidia graphic cards (TNT2 + MMX-440) each with a 17" samsung monitor, 2 IBM PS/2 keyboards that go into the 2 mini-DIN outlets for "keyboard" and "mouse" and 2 USB A4Tech optical mice.

Software-wise I run either Sarge or Woody and you need a vanilla kernel that you apply a patch to, to be able to separate keyboard inputs. I use 2.4.23. You cannot use framebuffers with that, but I use SvgaTextMode and that is just as good. Also only one monitor gets the 6 vc's, the other(s) has(have) "just" X. You can use any windowmanager but should use the Gnome Display Manager because that is the only one of the bunch that starts X servers correctly in sequence and takes them down correctly again. You also need a patched X, to be able to separate video-cards to separate X servers. Sarge has a binary that you can use and you just put this in your sources.list

deb http://www.schuldei.org/debian/bruby ./

I use Woody now (7CD's 3.0r1) so I compile my own X to be able to accomodate the patch.

The system is rock stable and the only peculiarities are that on startup of gdm (in my case: and this is videocard dependent) the VC's have garbage in them so you have to switch once to F<x> and then back to F7 again to get rid of it. Secondly the vc's will receive spurious input signals that are not damaging but mildly annoying at times because I use vc's a lot. With 2 Nvidia cards you have to use the Nvidia closed-source driver, which I do (currently 4496).

Also things like vcstime that write to vt's cannot be used (so I wrote my own that does the same thing on X using NAS)

And behold you have more than 1 user on your system. I have only an 850MHz CPU and I notice nothing. I only notice the difference with only one user in my 56KB modem line: my internet connections will slow down depending on what the other user is doing.

There is a mailing list:


Presently they are working on getting framebuffers to work with 2.6.0. That has not worked for me yet and I frankly don't see the advantage over what I have, for me 2.6.0 is only an advantage in system boot speed and how often do you do that.

If you want to know more feel free to write me at the email address. I recommend the mailing list and the HOWTO, very complete.


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