The most common use of the Plugable Docking Station today is to enable a Windows/Mac laptop to plug a single USB cable and gain connectivity to an additional monitor, speakers, network cable, and any other 4 USB devices.
But the same hardware can be also used on Linux to extend the computer in a different way – provide an second (or 3rd, 4th …) USB terminal to let several people share that Linux PC. With this $99 device and a spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you get an extra PC.
Here we have 4 UD-160-A terminals connected to a single netbook, using existing open source drivers and instructions.
But this area of Linux is in flux, and some of the underlying mechanisms used by that demo (particularly gdmdynamic) are being deprecated.
So what’s the way forward for plug and play multiseat on Linux? This touches many components, so the discussion is happening in several places, but the recent discussions on the ConsoleKit mailing list is probably the best summary.
When this support is integrated widely into the various Linux distros, you’ll be able to plug in a device like the UD-160-A and have it automatically pop up a login (from the user perspective, apparently power on whole additional computer).
And that’s when this flexible, multi-use device gets even more interesting …