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Enabling two PCs to share the computing power of a single PC in a SOHO environment

I want to be able to have two people use one PC at once. I found http://www.thinsoftinc.com/products_betwin_info.html - please recommend others that are popular. Also include the hardware requirements for such setup.

Secondly, what are the disadvantages of using such setup besides using up system resources? I have a high end system with a P4 3.7Ghz EE and 2GB RAM. I wonder why not many system admins or home users are using it.
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topwiz
Asked:
topwiz
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1 Solution
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
People share PC resources all the time through the use of servers and Terminal Services.  It's a common practice.  Doing this with Home PCs just doesn't make too much sense when many home PCs are setup for gaming and such.  Besides that, these systems would have to be in a central location, whereas a terminal session can be run from literally anywhere in the world.

I'm not sure I would do what you're trying to do when a new PC can be as little as $250.  The cost of your time getting this working and the limited number of expansion systems to me, doesn't make this a very viable option.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
I don't think it's a common practice in a SOHO environment. I want to know why since the software to enable such setup is far cheaper than a second PC.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
leew, please tell me where you can buy a new PC with monitor for $250. I would like to buy 2.
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waffleironheadCommented:
this would require you to use their mobo, but they do work

http://www.jetway.com.tw/evisn/index.html

here is one like the betwin, but is capable of more users


http://www.applica.com/product_app_teamwork.shtml

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I didn't say with monitor.  Add $50-$75 for a monitor.  Have you looked at Dell?  Just keep an eye on them.  Right now, brand new Dell PC (Dimension 2400; 2.4 GHz Celeron, 256 MB RAM, Audio, Network, Graphics) with 17" refurbished monitor for $359.

If you don't go with a brand name system, you can get or build one cheaper.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You're still going to need extra monitors with that system as one monitor will not support 2 users.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
Even if I buy another monitor and keyboard, IT IS STILL FAR CHEAPER THAN A SECOND PC.

Please answer my original questions. I'm not interested in more expensive options. Thanks.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Is expensive to you purely a matter of how many dollars you spend TODAY on a computer vs on additional hardware to do something non-standard to your existing computer?  

In the computer and business industry, there is something called "Total Cost of Ownership" - this takes into account the TIME you waste learning new things and implementing new technology - or simply DIFFERENT technology.  I believe the reason this isn't used in most cases is the TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP tends to be higher in the long run.

You asked for opinions.  I have given you one.  Sorry if you don't like it.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
Anybody else can answer my question? Thanks.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
leew, your estimate is way off. The TCO for the 2nd PC is actually more than $1000 since the following is required for the 2nd user:

1. New PC
2. New monitor
3. MS Office Pro
4. Photoshop Elements
5. DVD burner and Nero
6. Wireless card (for internet)

If you have two people use one PC at once then the above resources is not needed. Nevertheless, can somebodey else help me?



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CallandorCommented:
You shouldn't be so hard on leew - he does know what he's talking about and offers sound advice (for FREE!).

Have you considered VNC servers and clients?  TightVNC is what I use, for example: http://www.aerospacesoftware.com/vnc-howto.html
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I wouldn't be so sure the license of those products covers use by two terminals simultaneously.  
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topwizAuthor Commented:
I don't know about VNC servers and clients but from first read it looks clucky and complicated. I'm looking for a more friendly plug & play solution like BeTwin. Anything else?
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topwizAuthor Commented:
leew, two terminals? It's only one terminal, with two monitors :)
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topwizAuthor Commented:
Callandor, I don't see how it's illegal since there's only one computer/device involved. E.g. here's XP's EULA:

"You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Product on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device ("Workstation Computer")." - http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/eula.mspx

The method above is using a SINGLE computer/device and dual monitor setups are not illegal since it's displaying the SAME Windows desktop, not a second copy of Windows on another terminal. I cannot find anything specific in the EULA, please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Your quoted text sited the exact point in question:  

... such as a workstation, TERMINAL, or other device...

If you intend to have two people use the computer at the same time, then you have TWO terminals.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
leew, by your logic; if someone plays a game with another person on a single PC (single monitor, dual gamepad) then it's illegal?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Logic has nothing to do with it.  LICENSE AGREEMENTS!

How are you going to get two copies of photoshop to run at the same time, on a SINGLE monitor and expect two people to work at the same time?  Some programs won't even open twice.  Just because you may be technically able to do it, doesn't mean you can legally do it.  A game's license agreement would likely permit multiple players of the same instance of the same game.  Photoshop Elements and office would not.  

IF you are so concerned with price on things, why not move to free software.  Use Open Office instead of MS Office.  Use MySQL instead of Access.  Switch to Linux and use K3b instead of Nero, and you'll have a large number of graphics programs to chose from.  Not ALL software on Linux is free, but a very large portion of it is.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
Coming back to my point, most racing games and some shooters can be played with 2 people simultaneously. Why is no one making any noise about the big game developers (EA, UBI, etc) who you say are breaking the law?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
They aren't breaking the law.  There is NO LAW that says ONLY ONE PERSON CAN USE A COMPUTER AT THE SAME TIME.  EACH Peice of software has their own license agreement, which if you use the software you are supposed to abide by (this is related to copyright law - they are granting you use of their product provided you follow certain rules the agreement puts forth).  Microsoft Office, Photoshop elements are commercial software with license agreements almost certainly restricting them from being used simultaneously one one computer by more than one person without ADDITIONAL fees or more expensive licenses.  Game developers realize people want to play head to head and I'm equally confident most game developers do not object with people starting a game and allowing more than one player to play at the same time.  BUT, they can only run the program once (there would not be two individual racing games started independantly; the game would be started simultaneously and allow more than one person to play in that single session).  If you use Linux, and most software on Linux, the license agreements don't have such limitations about running only one session of the program at a time.  Linux and most linux developers operate under a different philosphy than Microsoft, game publishers, adobe, and other commercial software developers.
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topwizAuthor Commented:
The method above is using a SINGLE computer/device and dual monitor setup. Obviously only one person is able to use a program (e.g. Photoshop Elements) at any one time. Hence, in the above scenario how is using a dual monitor setup a violation of Microsoft EULA?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'd be sure I understood how that hardware works that you want to install.  If it does provide individual sessions then you are/would be violating license agreements.  If it doesn't then I'd love to know how it allows to moust pointers and keyboards on the same "desktop" at the same time.  I didn't say it would definitively violate the agreements, but in all likelihood, knowing the greed of these companies, you might even be in violation by having two people using the same SINGLE copy of windows at the same time.  
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topwizAuthor Commented:
Since it's not definitively violating anybody's EULA, lets get back on topic; can somebody answer my original questions? Thanks.
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r-kCommented:
"what are the disadvantages of using such setup besides using up system resources? I have a high end system with a P4 3.7Ghz EE and 2GB RAM. I wonder why not many system admins or home users are using it."

Topwiz:

Leaving aside the licensing issue, I would be skeptical of all the claims made by such software. The main reason more people don't use software like this is that it just doesn't work well. The program to do something like this is complex, and is often plagued by slow response time, hangups due to bugs, and incompatibilities with new versions. It is broadly the same reason that programs to emulate a PC on a Mac (e.g.) or a PC on Linux, have not caught on.

In your place, I would do a very careful trial before investing in a setup like the one you are considering. Actually, on balance I would probably save the time and just get a second PC like the others suggested.

Disclaimer: I haven't actually used the program you mention, my skepticism is based on having seen such products come and go in the past.
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