Two Screens/keyboards on one PC ?

perrybond
perrybond used Ask the Experts™
on
I have a shop that has two computers networked. They are old and slow. They only run MSaccess and a few other small programs.  They share one database (hence the network). I want to replace them, can I replace them with a single PC and run two keyboards/screens/mice from the one PC.  If this is possible, is there any specific hardware you would suggest and what would be the best operating system.  Reliability is more important than speed.
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Top Expert 2007

Commented:
No not really, unless you want to buy a special card that allows this, if they still amke them.

I would first get one new machine and upgrade the older machine as best you can so that it should work fast enough.

Is this for 2 different people, or 2 seperate locations.
You might consider using something like PC Anywhere on the remote machine, so that it is acutually doing the work on the new machine.  This is a good solution if 2 people do not need simultaneously to work.

I hope this helps !

Commented:
Possibly the following?

http://www.cablesdirect.com/mk100s.htm

It isnt particularly concurrent though. XP supports multi monitor by default.

Win2000 server comes with Terminal services which would allow lesser specked machines access to larger more resource hungry applications.
Sorry I cant be of more help!
rid

Commented:
I don't think any of MS normal products supports 2 simultaneous users on one machine. Unix/Linux is supposed to be able to handle several terminal connections, but I think this may involve a vast amount of tweaking... I think my suggestion would be to get 2 "new" PC's and create a setup similar to the one you use.

Regards
/RID
Ensure you’re charging the right price for your IT

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden using our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Start calculating Now!

Kyle SchroederEndpoint Engineer

Commented:
Is there any reason why the programs that run on both systems now can't be run on 1 more powerful system?  I don't really see the need for basically two separate systems.  If you really need two basically independent systems, you could use VMWare (www.vmware.com).  You can install Windows 2000 or XP on the system, then load VMware, create a virtual computer and install whatever other Windows version you want.  Then you just switch back and forth within the "host" operating system (Win2000/XP in this case).

-dog*
Kyle SchroederEndpoint Engineer

Commented:
Oh, you'll want the Workstation version:
http://www.vmware.com/products/desktop/ws_features.html

-dog*
i have seen a product that allowed this. it was named "buddy". it gave an card that fits in your expansion slots and connect monitor and peripherals to it. then u get two diff computers.

one link here (not abt the one i talked before)
http://www.vetra.com/multitxt.html
here's the link
http://www.getabuddy.com/

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the advice.
The current two computers sit on top of each other.
One is mostly used as a simple sales terminal using a stock list.
The second uses that stock list for making orders, processing internet sales and producing the web site.
I can see that people would suggest just using a single computer and screen, but customers are not very patient !! they do not even like to wait for the screen to minimise.  Further customers can see one screen, I would not always want them to see the second.

As for upgrading and swapping round, the old 486 is fine it's the pentiumII I want to replace, it has more bugs than an old dog.  Also the time taken to swap round is a problem, as the shop is open 7 days and I like my sleep.

Dogxtar, there is no reason I need two systems.  All I need is two windows and the ability to jump from one to the other simply (and if you'd met some of my staff you would have a better understanding of the word 'simply')
The very simplest way of jumping between two windows is to have two screens, then you only have to move your eyes (lazy huh!)
Now to make sure you don't type or click on the wrong screen - two mice and two keyboards.

If I can buy one computer, set it up and test it, that would be easier than trying to swap thesystem round ang get it working over night.

The buddything looks like it might be the answer, I'll contact them and see if it is available in the UK



Commented:
Windows XP will indeed support multiple monitors. Most modern AGP cards support it, you just need two of them. When running the POS application can be left running on the slave screen and the cursor swaps between them as you move off the end of the screen. You can also run two mice, one via the PS2 port and one via a USB port. The only item outstanding is the keyboard.
rid

Commented:
Is it the same applications that show up different windows? I was thinking on the lines of dual monitors (extended desktop) where one window opens on one monitor and the other one on another. Perhaps one window can be dragged over at program startup? This system can be made to run on win98, and newer I'd guess.

Regards
/RID
Kyle SchroederEndpoint Engineer

Commented:
Or you could get a new video card with "dual head" outputs  that would allow connectiong two different monitors to one CPU (but you would still have 1 keyboard/mouse).  There are many cards out there that work for this, such as several GeForce cards, Matrox, ATI, etc.  I can find specific examples if you like.  This may be cheaper also than the "Buddy" device listed above.  

Using VMWare as I suggested above is quite simple, if you are in System 1 and need to use System2, you just swap the windows (or minimize the VMWare screen).  I don't see how even the dense-est (?) employee could have problems with it.

-dog*
if u want to see both the screens from one place, u can try vnc!
Perhaps a new machine with two USB keyboards, two mice, and two monitors?  Run windows or whatever that supports 2 monitors.  As an alternative, you could ditch one monitor and replace it with a TV.  My PictureBook (windowsME--ewww) will display on the screen and the TV at the same time (ATI videocards, and manyothers can do this..)

Matrox also manufactures a single video card that will drive 2 monitors.  Not too expensive either.
Just setup both applications (or the same one twice) on the respective monitors and go, go, go.  easy.  It all will be on the same (virtual-)desktop, but displayed in two separate locations.  This way either screen can be used to do anything the other is doing... even 'pass' a window between the two.  

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial