Re: How is typical home computer used today?
> There is a sort of half-way house, whereby a second user can login
> to a workstation without the first user logging out, but the same
> keyboard and screen are used and the first user cannot do anything
> while the second user has control. I don't know how commonly used this
> is, Windows has had it for many years, but few home computers have
> enough resources to do this efficiently.
Huh? Not only Windows but also GNU/Linux and Mac OS X have had this
for years. And it's not particularly taxing in resources, since most of
the applications of the "non active" users will just be sitting idle and
can be swapped out.
IOW average PCs have been able to handle this very efficiently for years.
> Second and subsequent users have a poor 'user experience'.
Under Debian running Gnome, indeed, the experience is subpar: e.g. only
the first user logged in gets to enjoy audio output. This bug has been
with us since Debian/Gnome started relying on pulseaudio, IIRC.
And in my experience, the Gnome lock screen has had (and still has) all
kinds of weird lockups in these kinds of situations.
IOW, the problem is that it's not tested enough. Also, lots of
development around desktop environments have been made with brain-dead
assumptions (e.g. conflating "user" and "administrator"), forgetting
that GNU/Linux is a multi-user operating-system.
Examples go from earlier network-manager, to current pulseaudio, through
things like the "mount daemon" for USB drives.
> I think the main point being made is that computers are now
> sufficiently cheap that we don't have to all crowd around one machine,
> that where there are two or more people in a household who use a
> computer more than very occasionally, they will have their own
The price of the actual device has become a non-issue to a large extent,
indeed. But the price of real-estate has not gone down very much last
I checked, so the issue remains that it's a lot more expensive to have
room for 3 desks (with a computer and screen on each one) than to have
room for a single desk, shared by all members of the family.
So, while laptops are typically "single user", if there is a desktop
computer in a home, it's almost always shared by the family members.
So far, those family members have been sufficiently undemanding that
they're willing to "login&logout" every time they use the machine, but
they'd be better off never logging out and just switching between the
different users, all logged in at the same time.