One Lion iMac, two users simultaneously with two monitors?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by MrPeripatetic, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. MrPeripatetic macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    Would it be possible under Lion with an iMac to setup the following:

    -One iMac
    -Two users with different user accounts
    -Working simultaneously
    -Separate monitor, keyboard, trackpad for the second user accessing their own account at the same time the user on the iMac is using their own account

    I did some searches but didn't see anything too relevant since around 2006-2007, and wanted to see what the latest word is under current hardware running the upcoming Lion upgrade.

    Impossible? Possible? Unwieldy?

    Thanks ahead of time.

  2. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040


    May 20, 2010
    Boulder, CO
    You got it!
  3. mac-hatter macrumors newbie


    Jul 17, 2011
    I'm curious about this myself too. One of the new features is the ability to access a different user account using screen sharing. Now this still requires a separate Mac to access, but perhaps a third party will allow you to "emulate" a second computer through the external display. We'll have to wait and see....
  4. peto01 macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2009
    i was searching this feature too, but with MBP + ext monitor. So one user on ext stuff and the other on mbp.
  5. runebinder macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    Nottingham, UK
    Highly unlikely, but if you had Lion running in a VM on full screen on the external display, and and extra set of KB and mouse plugged in via USB and assigned them to the VM (like you can in Parallels), it might be feasible.

    Edit: Nevermind, just fired up Parallels and plugged in my USB mouse and no options to assign to VM, works in both. So that wouldn't work.
  6. MrPeripatetic thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    I was thinking that given the incredible speed and massive amount of memory in the current crop of iMacs, such a setup would be feasible, at least hardware-wise. So, I figured it would only be a matter of the OS being built to handle this, which it sounds like it isn't.

    What about this alternative to achieve a similar result? Would this work:

    -one iMac
    -format the hard drive into two partitions
    -install a separate iteration of Lion into each partition (may or may not cost an additional $29; not sure how it would work with two copies of Lion on the SAME computer)
    -connect an external monitor, keyboard and trackpad to the iMac
    -the person using the iMac itself accesses Lion on one partition with their own user account
    -the person using the external monitor, keyboard and trackpad simultaneously accesses the other Lion partition using their own user account

    Possible? Impossible?
  7. runebinder macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    Nottingham, UK

    The Mac can only boot to one partition at a time so that wouldn't work.

    Mice and keyboards can't be assigned to separate screens while booted to either partition, so you're not going to be able to share the Mac at the same time. The only way you and your partner are going to be able to use Lion simultaneously is if you buy another Mac I'm afraid.
  8. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    It is impossible to have two users on the same Mac at the same time, regardless of hardware, peripherals or software.
  9. daship macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2011
    I feel your pain. I needed a situation like this as well. So the family don't have to fight over one computer.

    Good news and bad news.

    Good news I got it to work.

    Bad news is not in OSX but in windows multipoint server 2011.

    With multipoint server 2011 there are several ways to accomplish this. Most are expensive. I made my own for $10 per user to make it work. I have one tower and two monitors, keyboards, mice. Both users can be logged in at the same time, and both have their own speakers. This setup works super good with i7 2600k @ 4.5GHz and 8G DDR3 memory, and a SSD hard drive, with ATI 5770 graphics. I can run 3 stations with my GPU, I could buy the right GPU and run 6 or 12 stations. You can run up to 20 I believe but you need to get different equipment, at $100+ per station.

    I got multipoint server 2011 from my technet subscription. You can find some videos of it in action on youtube.

    It rocks but you need a PC.

    In other news:
    If I feel like a mac, I can dual boot into my OSX hard drive and run snow leopard on 2 monitors :)

    Custom computers are the greatest :)
  10. dshack macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2008
    Not in Lion...the features page lists multiple-user, simultaneous logins:

    "You can remotely log in to a Mac with any user account on that computer and control it, without interrupting someone else who might be using the computer under a different login."

    Of course, that requires a separate mac to log in from, which defeats the purpose slightly. I wonder if you could log in from iPad-based thin clients or older ones, though.
  11. Mr. Zarniwoop macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    It's quite possible, although a bit kludgy pre-Lion, using VNC. I did it for a year or two.

    Multiple Desktop Sessions on Mac OS X Tiger (Wayback Machine link)

    Some caveats doing this pre-Lion:
    • Sound... audio isn't sent over VNC so the "primary" user hears any sounds generated by VNC users
    • Different desktop sizes seem to screw up the "primary" user
    • Keyboard state can often be a PITA... if the "primary" user is holding Shift, for example, depending on the application, the VNC users all unintentionally are holding Shift down too!
    More tips with techniques targeted at MYOB, but helpful if you're seriously going to try working this way:

    Running Same Application Multi-User on Mac OS X
  12. celhardt macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2009
    great minds think alike:

    My wife and I were just discussing this same topic this morning. She'd like to replace her HP laptop and I'd like to replace my dual G-5 powermac pro. since space is at a premium around our bedroom/office workstations, I suggested getting a new pro and setting it up as multi-user; two keyboards, two soundcards, two video cards or at least dual monitors. such a setup might use less electrical power than two towers. Ideally each of us could switch in and out of our mac/windows machines independently. With an 8-core processor there should be plenty of power to handle the load.
    Should be possible, given that Unix was originally designed to parcel out expensive processing and peripheral power to multiple simultaneous users.

  13. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    This would be epic. A MP spread across 3 users, costing 2 iMacs - and give any one user, all combined power in the off hours.

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