Home > linux > How to create multiple "terminals" for a linux workstation?

How to create multiple "terminals" for a linux workstation?

November 3Hits:2

I wanted to figure out how to have multiple terminals (monitor, keyboard, and mouse) use a single centralized system. I guess at this point I can get computers for around $150, and use them as dumb terminals, but I would really like to centralize about 20 users onto 2 boxes of 10 each. Saving 2k would be nice. Has anyone done this before?

Note, all the users do is email/browse web using an internal web app that runs on another server.


Also, I looked at disklessworkstation.com, but their "thin clients" are $200-$400. I can get a barebones PC for $150. I would be more looking for a $50 and/or under device that could talk on the network, or a way to throw more video cards and usb ports onto a server for I/O.


What you are looking for is called a multiseat setup.

Look at https://cs.senecac.on.ca/~ctyler/ruby/

If they are on a local lan the easiest way to do this is to use XDMCP, the X browser and native X over the local network. Check out the LTSP project for a good working example of this for schools. There are also several thin client oriented linux distributions which will help you do this. Its a bit of a complicated question to answer in full here but I think reading up on what has been done with respect to the Linux Terminal servers project will get you up to speed fairly quickly.


and here is another quick article


I work in a school, and have seen, used and implemented a few different multi-seat systems in the past few years with the aim of getting banks of workstations into classrooms.

For a Linux machine stuffed full of extra two-port graphics cards, with no propitiatory hardware needed, try Userful. You can download a free two-user demo, which seemed to work well enough when we tried it in a classroom. The software does cost money, though, and is comparable in price to similar Windows-based solutions. Buying matching compatible hardware, USB hubs, keyboards and so on (and configuring X for dual-port output) is a right palaver, so if you have the money to hand then buying their all-in-one hardware and software solution is probably the best idea.

NComputing's system works with their software and propitiatory hardware, a PCI card that you plug in the back of your PC to attach 5 workstation dongles that you then plug keyboards, mice and sound into. Note that these are PS/2 keyboards and mice (something to do with the system making use of PS/2 timing signals, I believe). One PCI card does 5 workstations, you can have up to 10 workstations by using 2 PCI cards, although I would point out that it's getting increasingly difficult to find decent motherboards with more than one PCI slot these days.

We use NComputing's older 3-workstation solution in our school staffroom on a Windows machine, and it chugs along okay. It seems to handle graphics and video better than you might expect, and the YouTube demo on their site shows their system running on one consumer-grade Dell PC with all 10 workstations running video, so a pretty standard PC (quad core might be a good idea) with some extra RAM (8GB is quite cheap these days) should handle most things.

I've actually got to repair the above-mentioned staffroom machine tomorrow, mainly because being a Windows machine the staff have stuffed it full of spyware and goodness-knows-what until it simply fell over. The licensing routine for the software is a bit over-protective, although seemingly this has been rectified in newer versions. It's worth pointing out that having one machine running multiple workstations does create a single point of failure.

From speaking to NComputing at a trade show in January, I know they were developing a Linux port of their software, although I haven't heard anything from them recently. Contact them for more details.

MiniFrame's SoftXpand system sounds similar to both of the above, using multiple standard graphics cards to run Windows workstations. I don't think they have a Linux version, although it's worth a check.

Double and triple check your Windows licensing before you use such a system with a Windows operating system. As far as me and a bunch of other people have been able to figure out, the best licensing option seems to be Windows Server with the appropriate number of Terminal Server CALs. Various resellers might well try to flog you systems that promise to run 10 workstations from one Windows XP PC, and it might be perfectly legal for them to supply such systems (they are, after all, supplying one PC with one copy of Windows), but you'll need to ensure each workstation is properly licensed (this gets really confusing in corporations and schools with Microsoft License agreements).

Technology has moved on in the year or two since we bought the multi-seat system, and for our new staff work area we bought Acer Veriton N260G machines, which clip on the back of an LCD monitor. Atom processor, low-powered, perfectly capable of everything the average user wants to do, just over £320 ($500USD) complete with widescreen monitor, keyboard, mouse and delivery, so I doubt a multi-seat system is going to save any money, and I don't know how the multi-seat power savings would compare against Atom-powered mini workstations like the Acer Veriton and Revo.

I think you are being a bit overly optimistic about how much you can save or accomplish on a single machine, and how much you could save by doing something like this.

That said, one vendor that offers what you want is Ncomputing. Specifically look at there X-Series virtual desktops.

Two paths to take here: 1. Virtualization with KVM (or Xen), and use the setup for VDI 2. LTSP - http://www.ltsp.org/

If I understand your question correctly you are trying to save on buying 20 cheap $100 desktops by instead buying 2 cheap $100 desktops and hooking 10 monitors/keyboards/mice to each. That won't work. You can deploy 20 dumb terminals using something like LTSP but you will still need 20 cheap computers sitting on desks in addition to a couple of computers in the back with more resources (around 4G+ RAM and 2+ CPU to handle 20 users). In this case the 20 computers you'd need to buy to use as terminals may also be powerful enough to run local email/web/etc. reducing the need for additional terminal servers.

The big win for central terminal servers is going to be more in management than cost, instead of 20 machines that need access to critical resources, patches, software installs and configuration you only have 2.

For 10 users per box, I would suggest installing OpenVZ on the two servers so that each user's activities are more isolated than in a traditional UNIX timesharing environment. Others have already pointed you to LTSP in order to run the $100 computers as X-terminals. If you really want them to be dumb, you should probably remove their hard drives and configure them as diskless workstations. However, if you have no experience doing this, consider installing your favorite distro on the workstations, and let them run things like Firefox on the remote CPUs rather than the main system. If they don't have root, and you force all data to be stored on a remote server (not the same as the terminal servers), then you would have 20 machines with hard drives that you can control remotely, with a familiar distro installed and some storage. In some places that would be considered a valuable resource.

The choice of LTSP or your favourite distro is really up to you, based on what you know, and what you want to learn about. Ten years ago, the machines running LTSP really didn't have enough power to run stuff locally, but nowadays, $100 of computer is not something that you really should leave sitting around idle. If you find that some corporate app puts too much load on the terminal servers, being able to offload Firefox and email clients onto the terminals will help you.

And please don't use the terminal servers for file storage. Put your hard drives on an entirely separate set of servers and use NFS or iSCSI to access them. Personally, I would use OpenSolaris with ZFS for that job, but there is plenty of NAS software for Linux too.

You may want to look into Sunray Desktop Terminal Units as ultra-thin clients to connect to an instance of Sunray Server


Fedora 17 supports multiseat out of the box. One way to implement it is with a Plugable docking station for each seat, which basically makes that seat a thin client that connects over USB to the computer. Alternatively, you can use the loginctl command to assemble any set of video card and input devices into a seat.

Related Articles

  • How to create multiple "terminals" for a linux workstation?November 3

    I wanted to figure out how to have multiple terminals (monitor, keyboard, and mouse) use a single centralized system. I guess at this point I can get computers for around $150, and use them as dumb terminals, but I would really like to centralize abo

  • On a linux server how do you use multiple terminals over a single ssh connection?May 1

    I often find myself opening several ssh connections in order to view several log files at a time with tail -f. This isn't a problem when I'm at home because I use public key encryption for password-less login. However, I will often use computer at my

  • Use one NIC to create multiple interfaces for Linux KVMDecember 9

    I am working on a thesis research project, and I am having some difficulty figuring out how to make one NIC spawn several "bridge" interfaces such that each KVM VM can be seen on the local network. I am very new to KVM, and am still exploring wh

  • Multiple Terminals displayed as a grid in one window

    Multiple Terminals displayed as a grid in one windowNovember 16

    Is there a way to have one window display more than one terminal at once? (Not in the typical tabbed configuration, more like a grid of arbitrary number of terminal screens) Ideally I'd like to have a 3 column by 2 row window with 6 terminal instance

  • Creating Virtual RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Fedora Appliances For KVM With BoxGrinder (Fedora 17)

    Creating Virtual RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Fedora Appliances For KVM With BoxGrinder (Fedora 17)April 14

    Creating Virtual RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Fedora Appliances For KVM With BoxGrinder (Fedora 17) Version 1.0 Author: Falko Timme Follow me on Twitter BoxGrinder is a tool that allows you to build virtual machines (with RedHat, CentOS, Scientific

  • Server quit without updating PID file on multiple mysql installation in linuxSeptember 26

    Iam trying to install one version of mysql in a LINUX machine. The system contain already another version of mysql installation. I prefer manual installation. Copy the extracted tarball into a location and create symbolic link to that. I wish to inst

  • Creating a ram disk on LinuxFebruary 27

    I have a machine with 62GB of RAM, and a trunk that's only 7GB, so I thought I would create a RAM disk and compile there. I am not a Linux expert. I found instructions on the internet to create the RAM disk: mkfs -q /dev/ram1 8192 but I changed the 8

  • Create multiple instance of TerminatorJuly 29

    Is there a way to create multiple instance of Terminator , each having its own sets of split terminals. Trying to launch new Terminator instance opens the existing one. The reason I m looking for this is suppose you have two horizontally split termin

  • Efficient way to create multiple filesMarch 19

    I have been testing find directory which is taking max inodes and while testing I had run touch test_{1..1391803}.txt But it's give me error "-bash: /usr/bin/touch: Argument list too long", now I'm running below command, but it's seems it will t

  • how to create multiple virtual NIC which each of them can take IP from DHCP when only single physical NIC is availableJune 18

    There are several virtual machine tools that can create multiple NIC for their guest OS. thought almost all of them let the virtual NIC of the guest OS to connect the physical NIC, I haven't seen any tool to connect multiple virtual NICs to single ph

  • How to create multiple chroot (jailed) users accounts in batch

    How to create multiple chroot (jailed) users accounts in batchJune 22

    I've been googling for tutorial on creating multiple chroot users accounts in batch but find none yet. The one that i found was creating multiple accounts from www.cyberciti.biz/tips/linux-how-to-create-multiple-users-accounts-in-batch.html May be so

  • How to create multiple files with the Terminal?April 5

    I've been learning to program with a really cool introductory book to C and I write off every example and task so I can learn the syntax by heart. I did every file manually until now, but the clicking, naming and saving gets exhausting. I need a way

  • Create multiple email accounts for a Domain

    Create multiple email accounts for a DomainOctober 20

    Hey - is there any way to create multiple accounts for a domain with one default password for changing it later by webmail? Need to create 1.240 mailboxes here. I dont have enough time to deal with one by one. Thank you --------------Solutions-------

  • How to create multiple sub-directories in one command from windows command prompt?November 18

    I am in a directory in windows command prompt. I can create one sub-directory in a single command like the following: md /data/rs1 I also can create multiple sub-directories by a single command from Linux like: mkdir -p /data/rs1 /data/rs2 /data/rs3

  • Create multiple VMware guests with vsphere_guest moduleDecember 2

    I have the following Ansible playbook for creating (cloning) VMware virtual machines (VMs) from a template: - name: Create VMware guest hosts: localhost connection: local gather_facts: False vars_prompt: - name: "vcenter" prompt: "vCenter h

  • Not able to create Multiple slave on slave window box in Jenkins

    Not able to create Multiple slave on slave window box in JenkinsFebruary 9

    I created a slave on windows machine(abc.ozc.local) from Linux jenkin and it is working fine. Now I am trying to create another slave on same window machine and getting error(abc.ozc.local).This issue is when I am trying to make it as a service it is

  • Utility to send a command to multiple terminals?September 15

    A while ago when I did a lot more system admining, there was a little utility that would send a command to multiple terminals that I had open. So essentially I could ssh into three different servers, then type tail -f /var/log/some_error.log into the

  • Can you create multiple FAT partitions with Boot Camp?October 17

    Can you create multiple FAT partitions with Boot Camp? We have a single partition but it is filling up with data and we want to create a second partition. The first is the max size for FAT partitions. --------------Solutions------------- No. The Boot

  • Do I need to create multiple reverse zones for a single IP address with Bind?July 23

    I've followed this tutorial in setting up Bind on my VPS. I created a dummy domain (test.com) and pointed it to - Same IP as used in the tutorial. It's all working nicely. What I'm curious about is: Lets say I have 10 domains on the one I

  • How to create multipart rar file in Linux?September 4

    How can I create multipart rar file in Linux using the official console rar client? RAR 3.90 Copyright (c) 1993-2009 Alexander Roshal 16 Aug 2009 Shareware version Type RAR -? for help I want a multipart rar with each part size being 150 MB. --------

Copyright (C) 2017 ceus-now.com, All Rights Reserved. webmaster#ceus-now.com 14 q. 0.846 s.