Library internet kiosks, school computer labs, or even developing countries would absolutely love a program called Desktop Multiplier.
What the hell is Desktop Multiplier? This proprietary software takes a single computer and turns it into multiple desktops, just add keyboards, mice, and monitors for each additional virtual workstation. What does the software developer say about it?
“Desktop Multiplier is a set of standard Linux software packages that extend the X Window System to support up to 10 fully independent and concurrent workstations using a single computer box. This is accomplished by adding standard video cards, USB keyboards and mice to a single PC system and adding Userful software. Desktop Multiplier is compatible with all single and dualheaded video cards supported by X.Org/XFree86 [...]”
Desktop Multiplier makes it easy to do things like adding keyboards, mice, etc – it all happens pretty easily, instead of being semi-difficult to configure 10 workstations’ inputs and outputs, it makes it easy… just press F1, F2, F3, etc while running the configuration program to assign a keyboard to a monitor. If the mouse is connected via a keyboard USB hub, it automatically associates the mouse with that keyboard. It’s pretty smart and makes setup a breeze.
Note: The same effect is possible to setup by manually editing various configuration files, but this program makes it easy enough for someone with moderate intelligence and an installation manual.
I was able to succesfully install Userful onto Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 and requested a free two-workstation license and received it via email. I hooked up another set of USB inputs (which happened to be using Bluetooth, and setup my nVidia card with dual outputs to two different monitors. Everything worked like a charm.
Here’s some screenshot of the main screen in action:
Saving on electricity costs when two or more people are sharing the same computer at the same time is a great way to put money in the bank. Adding additional workstations is as inexpensive as a a new keyboard, mouse, video card and monitor – far less than the cost of an additional computer.
Let’s take a hypothetical situation of needing 10 kiosks in close physical proximity. We’ll need 5 video cards with dual outputs, 10 keyboards, 10 mice, and 10 monitors. We’ll go with an AMD 939 pin CPU and motherboard combination, and since a dual-core processor is only $10 more, it’s a safe bet to splurge a little bit.
Seems like a great way to procure multiple workstations (that just so happen to be pretty powerful) for a damn cheap price per seat.In all, including ten 17″ LCD monitors, the cost is less than $200 per seat.
Eat that, OLPC!