3 Kids, 3 Monitors, 3 Keyboards, 1 computer; Possible?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by clearthinker, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. clearthinker macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2002
    I need help with the idea that I have 3 kids and would like to have one computer with 3 monitors/3 keyboards. Their rooms are close to each other so that I could place the computer centrally and have monitors/keyboards in each room on their desks.

    Maybe I'm crazy for thinking this could be possible but thought I would try.

    Another option would be for my boys to have one machine with 2 monitors/2 keyboards and my daughter having one in her room.

    Thanks for any ideas you can throw my way!!
  2. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    You aren't going to be able to use the computer independently as if it were three different computers, if that's what you are thinking.
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    That may be theoretically possible...however, only one person could use the computer at a time. Also, the mini only has two display outputs, and while you can use a USB adapter for a third, they have significant lag. If you wanted to do any wireless keyboards/mice, they may interfere with each other.

    So overall, that is a very difficult proposition, and I think it would work better (likely with less fighting) if there was just one place to use it, with only the slight inconvenience of having to move. Basically it would amount to the same thing, only less expensive.
  4. voyager03 macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2010
    Somerset, UK
    I think it is possible with patience, Virtualbox using remote desktop protocol but you'll need terminals for each child rather than just a keyboard and screen and you'll probably tear your hair out in frustration while getting it sorted.
  5. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3


    Apr 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    That's not true. At my high school some of the labs were set up so they had really fast computers set up to be like two computers at the same time. I'm sure with a good enough computer you could have it act like three computers. Although I don't know if you could run OS X this way, I'm not sure how that licensing works.
  6. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    simultaneous multi-user login *NIX systems are very common. However, OSx doesn't provide simultaneous multiple user logins, which is what you need to have independent users on the same system at one time.
  7. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    You can't with osx but you can with windows. Hp do a tower (main server so to speak) and client pc's (monitor keyboard mouse and link box)
  8. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    OSX is UNIX compliant.

    It IS a multi user operating system. I can be logged in physically and put up as many ssh connections as I like. Each ssh connection is a user logged on.

    I did a quick google and found this: http://serverfault.com/questions/8966/mac-os-x-multi-user-thin-client-server-terminal-server

    The thread's a bit old and uses vine server, but it means you could get a cheap atom pc with linux and vnc viewer, or a thin client and do it that way.
  9. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    I know that OSx is *nix compliant and multi-user; it's just that what the user is proposing isn't going to work with just 3 keyboards and 3 monitors. However, I doubt that a thin client is really what the OP is looking for.
  10. joeji macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2010
    multiple users on one computer

    :D There is a way to let your kids use only monitors for just one computer.
    Canadian Company figured it out.
  11. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    Nice spam for the company. However it is a linux solution and the OP is looking for OSx.

    do you work for the company?
  12. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3


    Apr 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Grow up, dude.
  13. doktordoris macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2009
    why don't you?
  14. iVoid macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2007
    While you might be better off just getting 3 mini's for the ease of setting it all up, you can do this with a video splitter.

    Like this one: http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=4944
    You hook up the DVI out from the Mini to the video splitter that splits the video out to the 3 monitors. Then just connect the 3 keyboards.mice to the mini (probably with a USB hub somewhere along the way).

    This will require them to cooperate on who gets to use it when, since all the keyboards and mice will be active all the time and can be used by anyone.

    As a bonus you can hook up a fourth monitor to keep an eye on what porn sites your kids are visiting. :)

    A more expensive option that would let four keyboard/monitor/mouse combination switch between a single computer is a matrix switch: http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5312

    It's actually meant to switch four computers between four kmm setups, but could be used just to switch one between 3 kmm setups.

    But in the end, the cost make sit more worthwhile to give them each a mini (or iMac).

    Or just get one MacBook and let them carry it where it's needed.
  15. Giuly macrumors 68040


    You intend to do this on a Mini right? So lets say you'd use the $900 2.66GHz Mac Mini: Divided by 3 that is $300. You get 3 PowerMac G4 MDD w/ 1GHz (or G4 and G5 Minis) for that, including monitors, keyboards, mouses, etc. If you're going to upgrade the RAM for $30 each, they probably work better than a new Mini with 3 users connected when doing heavy work.
    The power consumption with all machines on are higher, no doubt, but you can set them up to a stand-by of 5 minutes, and as they accomodate kind-of regular ATX PSUs, you can put modern, high efficient PSUs in there, as long as they have the power connector and fan on the same position.

    But most important, you'll have no "Daddy, Malcolm used up all the diskspace", "Daddy, my flash lags because Dewey plays WOW", "Daddy, Reese uses all the RAM" and such stuff, because they are all dedicated. You can share one or more printers on all computers. And they are fast enough for studying (browsing, writing, etc), YouTube, what have you - except heavily graphics and CPU dependent tasks. But they don't do Final Cut, right? The PowerMac G4 MDD run Leopard, so you don't miss much in comparison to Snow Leopard.

    Also, in 1-2 years you can replace them with early MacPros or pre-aluminum Mac Minis, for $300 each.

    You need one PC for every Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse anyways, called "thinclient", which is essentially old, slow PC hardware in the size of an Mini just to connect to the Terminal Server (aka. your Mini).
  16. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files
    terminal server is the phrase you're looking for.

    can be done in windows, i don't know of an OS X solution.

    installed something like THIS in a small school computer lab. price is up there, but you get one easy to maintain system, and save a bunch on electricity. best of luck.
  17. Baby Mac macrumors regular

    Baby Mac

    Jul 28, 2010
    The first thing I thought, "This guy calls himself clearthinker?!"
  18. knux11 macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2008
    they used to sell adapters for this thing. Only saw them for windows though, and haven't seen them in about 5+ years.

    Great idea though!
  19. BKMK5 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2010
  20. iVoid macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2007
    Actually regular KVM switches (like that one) usually switches ONE monitor/keyboard/mouse between multiple computers.

    What the OP wants to do is switch one computer between three monitor/keyboard/mouse stations. A matrix switch would be needed like I mentioned in my post.

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