Multiseat X Under Linux

by Chris Tyler

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Multiseat systems provide multiple graphical interface hardware sets (monitor/keyboard/mouse/optionally sound) so that several people can use one computer at a time. They're ideal for libraries, Internet cafes, desktop home computing, classrooms, call centers, and other high density, cost-sensitive environments.

When you put two to seven users on one standard white box PC (instead of individual PCs), the hardware, system administration, and power savings add up quickly.

I keep getting inquiries about doing Multiseat X under Linux using 6.9 (X11R6.9/7.0, which is now in pre-release testing), so I've put together a temporary mini-HOWTO.

What uses can you see for Multiseat?


2005-12-05 21:33:07
Lan Parties
If the graphics can run fast enough
it would be great for lan party rentals.

Think birthday parties, where the kids are getting to old for the bouncy house.

You could cut down on the equipment that you would have to carry around.

2005-12-07 09:45:09
Multiseat systems
There is already a mature multiseat product available called Desktop Multiplier. It allows you to run up to 10 workstations from a single PC and runs on most popular Linux distros. You can download a trial version at
2005-12-07 10:19:19
Multiseat systems
The Userful product seems to be a good one, but last I head it was $100 per seat, vs $0 to implement (basically) the same thing through the xorg.conf file. Since economy is one of the main reasons for adopting multiseat systems, this difference in price is significant.

I'd rather see Multiseat functionality built into and eventually supported directly in the distibutions (via config tools). There will still be a good market for premium configuration and management tools such as those offered by Userful. In fact, that's probably the biggest market - so a wider deployment of Multiseat systems should work in their favor.

2005-12-07 10:19:42
Multiseat systems