Assuming broswer-only app use, what would prevent two users from sharing one dual screen monitor display to access the Internet at the same time?

Joseph Videtto January 16, 2013
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In my school, we’re about to purchase some PCs, and I had earlier posed this question regarding an app that allows multiple users to share one computer.

But with a little more thought, I realized that the teachers in my school are most interested in allowing each child to independently use a browser.

So, in the spirit of ‘good hacking’, ingenuity, and saving some $$$$$, I thought:

Why doesn’t the school just buy a dual-screen monitor setup, attach multiple 2 USB keyboards and 2 mice to the same machine, and open 2 (or even 4 !!!) browsers at the same time. The dual-screen monitors, keyboards, and mice would each be placed at separate seats, 2 browser sessions would be opened, and the respective mice placed over each browser. We of course have to trust the children not to navigate over to the other child’s browser and mess them up – which I’m sure the mischievous little children will figure out is fun to do. ;-) But that can be monitored and addressed.

The only part then, I can’t figure out how to do – is to direct the 2 different USB keyboard inputs to the separate browser windows – I was thinking maybe some sort of ‘pipe’ or ‘filtering’ utility at the program level.

Can anyone help me figure out if 2 keyboards can be used simultaneously by 2 different users simultaneously on 1 computer where each keyboard input is directed to a different browser window?

Also – can anyone tell me why this approach might not work (besides children intentionally interfering with their partners browser session).

  1. Paul Pruitt
    January 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Yeah apparently ha14's link means installing the free Virtual PC for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/) and then installing an operating system in it, like a second Windows 7 or the also free Windows XP mode (also free if you own Windows 7).

    Then you attach the second mouse and keyboard and you go into the device manager of both the machine and virtual machine. You disable the second mouse and keyboard in the parent machine and the original mouse and keyboard in the virtual PC machine.

    Or something like that. That's what I gleaned from the post.

  2. Austin Halsell
    January 16, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Also, processing power would be significantly slower the more you add users to any one PC no matter how the users are "split" even if they are able to be split. You would need to build a very powerful mini server and run VM's, but still the risk of USing too many system resources is high.

    I work in the tech department at a school district, and we have been looking into this in order to save money on replacing our outdated machines and operating systems. But RAM, trouble shooting, printers, and a bevy of other concerns seemed a bit too risky to invest the time and money necessary to explore as an option.

    Maybe try it out in one class, and see if it is viable. I'd limit it to 2-3 users per computer if it's only a mid range PC you're looking to use.

  3. ha14
    January 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

    GUIDE]HOW TO: Two Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse/Users on One PC in Windows
    http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-123452.html

  4. Oron Joffe
    January 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Joe, there's nothing to stop you from running multiple browser windows (or multiple browsers) on the same computer, but without additional 3rd party products, you will not be able to separate the users. There will be one mouse pointer and one keyboard cursor, and by definition, each child will be "stepping on the toes" of their partner to the PC.
    There used to be a product, back in Win98-2000 days, that allowed a PC to be "split" into two virtual PCs, but even it still exists, I don't think it would make much sense to use something like this today. If you want to keep down the costs, you would be better served to set up a Terminal Serices/Citrix server, and use PCs (and possibly some new thin clients) as terminals, to give everyone their own computer. A good Citrix setup is very usable for anything that doesn't require intensive local multimedia processing (i.e. no photoshop, audio or video editing))