Is it possible to use one computer for two people at the same time?

El Burro

Suspended
Original poster
Sep 7, 2009
134
199
Hi all,

I searched for this before but didn't find anything about this.

We all know that there is fast user SWITCHING on OS X but only ONE person can be on the computer at any given point.

However, I'm wondering if it's possible to have two people use one computer at the same time using different monitors.

I know that it's technically VERY feasible, but I'm not sure if there's some software that allows you to do this. I'm sure there are virtualization options, and also using one account with one display and an extended display as well that could be a workaround but not really practical.

I'm talking about two people using the same computer, with different accounts, at the same time.

It would truly be a game changer, but somehow I see Apple and Microsoft being very reluctant in doing this (because then it would mean potentially less sales). I know the hardware is MORE than adequate these days to do this as RAM is the real bottleneck on this, not CPU (which for years has been marginally insignificant for 90% of users).

I remember reading that Linux has this feature, but Linux is a PITA, too technical, and not easy to use as OS X or Windows.
 
Last edited:

talmy

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
4,707
266
Oregon
About 20 years ago there were "X Terminals" that allowed multiple users with graphical displays on a single Unix system. And before that there were text terminals and Teletypes that did the same thing without the graphics. What did them all in as something practical was the the cost of computers basically became the same or less than the cost of these terminals.

So while you can have several people using a Mac (with Lion or Mountain Lion) they would have to be using it from other computers, so there is no cost savings. As you pointed out Linux (and Unix) can do this as well, and so can Microsoft Windows Server (at least some editions).
 

noodile

macrumors regular
Aug 4, 2012
139
0
WOuldn't that be perfectly possible with a VM? you can have different mice, keyboards, usb ports for the actual user and a set for the Virtual machine.
 

El Burro

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Original poster
Sep 7, 2009
134
199
About 20 years ago there were "X Terminals" that allowed multiple users with graphical displays on a single Unix system. And before that there were text terminals and Teletypes that did the same thing without the graphics. What did them all in as something practical was the the cost of computers basically became the same or less than the cost of these terminals.

So while you can have several people using a Mac (with Lion or Mountain Lion) they would have to be using it from other computers, so there is no cost savings. As you pointed out Linux (and Unix) can do this as well, and so can Microsoft Windows Server (at least some editions).

Thanks for the info. I hope that these "X Terminals" eventually see a resurgence in popularity. It's really a cost-effective, convenient, and valuable tool for people.

It could do so much for schools, colleges, 3rd world countries, etc.

It's surprising that computers with GUIS in the early 90s had the processing power/RAM to power such a thing though.
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,164
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NYC
Thanks for the info. I hope that these "X Terminals" eventually see a resurgence in popularity. It's really a cost-effective, convenient, and valuable tool for people.

It could do so much for schools, colleges, 3rd world countries, etc.
Why would you want that?

There are so many old computers on the market. You can find many computers that will do just about anything with very little tune up needed. Most just need a fresh OS and some cleaning. Many will even be free. If a poor community, school, or whatnot needs computers that's not an issue. There was an article on this about a guy who built a computer lab with free donated computers for his low budget school. Here's the site: https://sites.google.com/site/robertlitteportfolio/

Now if you're looking for processing power, then you don't want to have a couple people sharing the same resources anyway.
 

talmy

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
4,707
266
Oregon
Yes, it worked 20+ years ago because the terminals were much less expensive than a computer. That's no longer true.