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Single Computer with multiple simultaneous users

By aw_willis ·
One time I walked into an Internet cafe in Rwanda in Africa and found that users where somehow all simultaneously using the same systems unit but different monitors, keyboards and mice; its like everyone was using a different computer except that none of the users had a systems unit at his or her desk. I noticed this because when I needed to use my memory stick, the attendant had fix it for me on his main computer. This whole thing got me thinking lately that I could probably setup something similar to what they were using in that Internet cafe except that I don't know what kind of computer that was.
This may sound silly to some of you but I need someone to explain to me what kind of computer system that was and what merits and demerits come with deploying something like that in an Internet cafe of computer training lab.

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Best Guess: *nix

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Single Computer with mult ...

I'm guessing it was running either the Linux or Unix operating system.

The relative merits and demerits are matters of great discussion. Briefly, they're far more secure and you have more control over what's going on as opposed to a Windows or Apple system. Those features make them excellent choices in a cafe or lab. On the down side, that greater security and control require you to learn more about how they work. (Many compare Linux to Windows like comparing a motorcycle to a car; both provide transportation, but knowing how to drive one doesn't help with the other.) There's also the issue of incompatibility with many popular Windows programs. There are great Linux counterparts for many Windows apps, but that doesn't include most popular games.

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Could be a terminal server

by JamesRL In reply to Single Computer with mult ...

Windows Terminal Services run under the Windows Server OS.

In a terminal server the client can be an old PC (as long it can run RDP), or a cheap WinTerm/WBT (often with windows embedded on a chip). We used to use some WBTs from Wyse that were about 4 inches wide by 6 inches long by 2 inches high.

The advantage is that you have complete control over what someone can and cannot run. You can update all the software on the server and it becomes instantly updated on for the users.

The bad news is some software doesn't like being shared. And you now have to track how many licenses you have for software, because you can assume that if you share the software with every user, every user will use it, though you can restrict users from running things by application - so more administration.

The other downside is you are now very dependant on one server. Better back it up, put a UPS on it, have a RAID for both performance and safety.

Its good in some environments, bad in others, depends on the situation. For a simple web surfing cafe, it would be fine.

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