Multiseat gaming?

Multiseat (see here (SU) and here (unix.SE)) allows multiple users to use one PC with multiple mice/keyboards/monitors as if it were several PCs. It would be great to run some less-hardware-hungry games this way since no second PC were required. Unfortunately all I tried so far didn’t work:

  • Ubuntu: I didn’t even manage to setup multiseat on my dual-head so far
  • Windows 7 64 bit: the only thing that worked at all was BeTwin but doesn’t support hardware acceleration

Has anyone else tried this, and maybe even succeeded?

  • Both Fallout 3: Game of the Year and Fallout: New Vegas crash when I try to create a new game
  • Can I get Skyrim to remember my custom keybindings?
  • How to run Tonic Trouble under Windows 7?
  • Which is better for a Gaming PC Graphics Card - more RAM, or faster GPU?
  • Keyboard problem with Skyrim
  • How to make my follower to wear same type of armor as her default, but improved?
  • What will happen to my owned games if Steam were to close?
  • Both Fallout 3: Game of the Year and Fallout: New Vegas crash when I try to create a new game
  • HUD is missing in Battlefield 3?
  • Reorder action keys?
  • Blood on the Ice - No interaction with the clues in Hjerim possible
  • What should I do when a hacker gives me hacked money?
  • 3 Solutions collect form web for “Multiseat gaming?”

    I would use VMWare. This might be possible with just VMWare player (you will need to be able to allocate a mouse to a single VM), or you might need to try VMWare workstation (for which I’m quite sure it works). The hardware/software you will need is as follows:

    • Multiple sets of USB input (mice/keyboard/etc.)
    • A license for VMWare Workstation (or another VM system)

      1. Set up a VM as you normally would and power it down.
      2. Configure the USB Controller (found in “Edit virtual machine settings”) to “Show all USB input devices”
      3. Start up the VM.
      4. In the menu Navigate to VM -> Removable Devices, and select the inputs to direct to the VM exclusively. (Now one of your keyboard/mouse combinations will only be directed to that VM.)

    At this point you have a window that is fully isolated with a set of inputs that will go only to it. You can do this for as many VMs as you can handle (and for as many sets of input as you can handle – I only tested with 2). The only irritating thing that can happen is is you have only 2 sets of inputs (in my case my laptop keyboard, my USB keyboard and 2 USB mice). I set up a VM with my USB Keyboard/Mouse combo, and maximized that to one monitor (you need VMWare tools to do this). For the other I had a problem that my mouse could escape from one VM onto the other (a feature of tools); to get around that I put my second VM in “exculsive mode” thus caputuring my “host” input; I could also have had a second keyboard/mouse combo.

    Best of this is, you don’t even need multiple monitors, you could do it split-screen style with a bunch of VMs+keyboards+mice.

    This can be done in Linux, and has been possible for many years in both Linux and UNIX. What it is not, however, is well supported by configuration tools; setting it up will generally involve manually editing a bunch of files.

    The search term you’ll probably find most useful is multi-seat, which is a setup with multiple independent keyboard/mouse/monitor groups that multiple people can use at once (not to be confused with multi-head, which is where one user and keyboard/mouse pair uses multiple monitors). The Ubuntu documentation for setting up multiseat on recent (12.x/13.x) Ubuntu distros can be found here; the Arch Linux documentation for it (which is often helpful even if you don’t use Arch, as they tend to go into great detail) is here. (If you already tried the Ubuntu instructions and they didn’t work, detailing how and where they went wrong would be helpful.)

    An alternative way to do things involves one central computer and a number of extremely minimal “thin clients” connected to it over a LAN; the central computer runs all the programs and the thin clients use X forwarding to act as additional displays for it. This can be even more aggravating to set up in some ways, though, as you need a very fast network to support multiple users, and stuff like sound support requires extra work if you want it to be streamed over the network to the clients rather than everything coming out of the central server’s speakers.

    For Windows XP/7/8 32/64 see ASTER also – it supports a h/w acceleration of graphics

    We love Playing Games, especially Video Games.