Dual Monitors/Graphics Adapters, Multiple X Sessions, Separate Keyboards/Mice

Posted on 2011-03-16
Last Modified: 2013-11-08
The Scenario

I am trying to set up a network infrastructure at my church where currently they are stuck in the 1950's as far as technology. So far I have acquired some old free stuff to get started (working HP NetServer E800, 3Com 48-port switch, Netgear wireless router, enough CAT5 to circle the building 5 times, keyboards, mice,CRT monitors, etc....). Money is a problem. Free and donated is about all that I can do.

The Problem

I have a shortage of decent microtower PCs. Most of the stuff I got was out of peoples' basements, some are so old they have dialup modems and 5-1/4" floppy drives - useless to me at this point. I only have 3-4 decent PCs (Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 2.0GHz or above, 1-2gb RAM). I am expecting around 10-15 people to simultaneously attend my upcoming beginner computer courses at the church. If I'd like everyone to have their own learning station, I'm a few PCs short.

My Question

I have a bunch of PCI and AGP graphics cards. Provided the PCs I have can handle more than one display adapter, is it possible for me to install Ubuntu or some other flavor of Linux, and run two separate X sessions with separate keyboards, mice, and monitors? Basically I am trying to make two computer stations out of a single microtower.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Making the best out of what you've got is not always easy!
Question by:ayohoff
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Expert Comment

by:Alberto Cortes
ID: 35153529
You cannot use one PC to have more than one mouse/keyboard. Sorry for giving you the bad news, but you are restricted with the hardware you actually have.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35153675
Just to further explain RicoCebiche's reply, you can't have more than one mouse pointer or keyboard cursor.
I have a dual monitor setup so each monitor is in a different room and have 2 keyboards and 2 mice connected so I can control the PC from either room. But it is still only the one mouse pointer I am controlling at the time. If both mice are moved at the same time they fight each other for control.

The only way I can see it potentially working is with running virtual machines (using VMWare or another tool). If you can restrict a physical USB port to a single virtual PC, then the pointer will be moved only by that device. Shoudl work with a mouse but the keyboard would be harder. You would need a third party app to do this and I don't know of any (or even if they exist). You will need more powerful PCs that you have to even try this however. Even if you could get this working there is nothing stopping either user from moving the mouse outside their own screen to interact with the other side.
LVL 18

Accepted Solution

Rartemass earned 500 total points
ID: 35153722
After doing some more research you may be able to do it with this:

I believe it is a Windows only app however. You may be able to get it working in linux with something like Wine. You will need to purchase it however.
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Author Comment

ID: 35153755
Thanks for the posts guys. And thank you for getting me started Rartemass on the right path toward what I am trying to find.

Unfortunately the TeamPlayer app still requires each user to have their own host PC. However, your find inspired me to look further into Windows rather than Linux solutions. After doing some more searching, I actually found an app for Windows that does EXACTLY what I am looking for. It's a bit pricey, but maybe I can find an alternative.

I am going to leave this post up for a little while longer. If either of you find an alternative solution to the app I linked above that is either cheaper than this one or better yet free, please let me know.

Assisted Solution

ayohoff earned 0 total points
ID: 35153826
Well, I have found my answer. I am going to proceed with the following product as it is just what I was looking for.

Thank you for your help!

Expert Comment

ID: 35157331
this can be done in linux
Check out this artical 
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35161118
Glad you found what you were looking for.
The software you found is interesting, I'll definitely take a look at it.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 35178880
Both users were quick to reply to my post, but only Rartemass's comment was thorough and he followed up with further research that helped me get on the right path.

I still needed to do further searching to find the actual answer, but am still rewarding the points to Rartemass for helping to point me in the right direction.

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