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USB device lets multiple users share one PC

Mar 8, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 19 views

Pluggable announced a device that allows multiple users to share a single Linux or Windows PC via USB. The DC-125 USB 2.0 Docking Client includes an upstream port for connection to a host, two downstream USB 2.0 ports, audio I/O jacks, and a VGA output that supports screens up to 1280 x 1024 pixels, the company says.

According to Pluggable, one use for its new DC-125 USB 2.0 Docking Client (right) is merely to add multiple monitors to a single PC. In this mode, the device works like other DisplayLink devices (already sold by vendors including Diamond, HP, Targus, and Toshiba), using special drivers to route video signals over USB.

As this author can attest from daily use, that technology is a nifty way to add three additional screens to a laptop, gaining a ginormous desktop. (Just don't try pumping video onto one of the USB-connected displays, or your CPU utilization will jump way up!)

Pluggable's USB 2.0 Docking Client has another mode, however. Instead of just providing multiple screens for a single user, the device can also allow multiple users to share a single PC.

PC sharing requires a compatible multi-user OS, which can be either Microsoft's Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 or Userful's MultiSeat Linux. Microsoft doesn't say how many users can be supported, while Userful cites 11; practically speaking, however, the number is limited by host processor speed, by available bandwidth,  and by how many USB ports are available on the host PC.

According to Pluggable, the rear of the DC-125 includes a USB 2.0 upstream port for connection to a host computer, plus two USB 2.0 downstream ports for a keyboard and mouse. Also offered are 3.5mm jacks for audio input and output, plus a VGA port that drives monitors at up to 1280 x 1024 or 1440 x 900 pixels.

Once a keyboard, mouse, and monitor are connected to the Docking Client, a workstation is created that may be used as if it were a stand-alone PC (though with the limitations on video bandwidth that we've already hinted at). Both MultiPoint Server 2011 and MultiSeat Linux include utilities for creating user accounts and performing other network administration tasks.

Pluggable says the USB 2.0 Docking Client needs no separate power supply in normal use, and therefore no power brick is supplied with it. If a high-power USB device is to be connected to one of the DC-125's ports, however, an AC adapter should be added, the company says.

A DC-125 hardware walkthrough
Source: Pluggable
(click to play)

NComputing's desktop sharing tech tapped by Fujitsu

Another Linux-ready desktop sharing solution is available from NComputing, which recently shipped a Numo SoC (system-on-chip) designed for thin clients that provides multimedia-enabled remote access to Windows and Linux desktops, and optionally runs Android 2.1 locally.

Today, our sister publication eWEEK reported on NComputing's newly announced OEM relationship with Fujitsu. The Japanese computer firm will integrate NComputing's 64-bit vSpace virtualization technology and Numo SoC with its PC, servers, and services to provide integrated multi-workplace solutions optimized for SMB customers, says the story.

Further information

According to Pluggable, the DC-125 USB 2.0 Docking Client costs approximately $65 and is available now. More information may be found on the DC-125 Product Page.

Jonathan Angel can be followed at

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