For use in extreme programming environments, the idea of single display groupware has become rather interesting.

I understand that applications need to be retooled in order to function as single display groupware in themselves. However, there is another idea that is worth considering, and I was wondering how involved it would be to develop this for Linux or if something like this already exists.

  1. Applications themselves do not need to be tooled to operate as single display groupware
  2. Multiple mice and multiple keyboards are to be plugged into USB drives
  3. Each mouse is internally paired with a keyboard by the OS to coordinate the relationship of a separate user with their mouse and keyboard
  4. Each mouse is given a unique colored cursor on the screen in the OS desktop environment
  5. Each mouse/keyboard/cursor is associated with a separate human being that we will call a "user" (does NOT have to be a "system" user, but it can)
  6. When a user clicks on an application window, that user "steals" focus for that application
  7. When a user has focus for an application, the OS channels that user's mouse and keyboard as the input controls for that application
  8. Focus can be "stolen" by any user at any time for an application by simply clicking on that application window
  9. The desktop environment can be extended to multiple displays (as is typical for multi-screen setups), and this ability for users to "steal" application focus should continue to work across these multiple displays

What would be involved to see something like this become a reality for Linux?

  • What, exactly, is your question? If you want advice on choosing a distribution this is not within the scope of this (or any other SE) site. Ideas on human-computer interface may be exchanged on UX SE (ux.stackexchange.com). – Deer Hunter Dec 22 '12 at 18:15
  • The question is, since I want steps 1-9 to be a reality on a Linux OS platform so that an extreme programming team can use it, what is the state of Linux toward this end and would be involved to enable this kind of functionality? – FriendlyDev Dec 22 '12 at 23:00
  • 1
    @DeerHunter Rewriting the kernel? Where does the kernel come into this? – James McLaughlin Dec 23 '12 at 1:29
  • @JamesMcLaughlin I stand corrected, thanks. JohnSiu has the point. I have deleted my incorrect statement. – Deer Hunter Dec 23 '12 at 9:15

Update 1

I believe the feature you are looking for is actually X Window multi-pointer.

From ArchLinux Multi-Pointer X Introduction:

Xorg servers starting from version 1.7 have a feature called "multi-pointer". Basically it allows to have multiple mouse cursors (each with its own keyboard focus) on the screen and control them with separate physical input devices. It can be used as a crude multiseat solution.

Check out following links

Original Answer

I saw various of those setup in the past (in term of years). So it is definitly doable. No need to re-write kenrel or x windows.

Doing a google search with linux multiple mouse pointers, come up with multiple pages. Following is one of them

Those are only 2 of many that come up.

If you search for linux multi-seat, you will get links for one linux box supporting multiple KVM (keyboard+video+mouse). Following is one of them

So the technology is definitely already available, but how far you can go, or how they suit your need, you will have to spend sometime to research and experiment.

  • 1
    Multiseat is only a small part of the story, and not the most important one. The main difficulty with the requested setup is to share windows among all users while allowing each user to have his own focus. – Gilles Dec 23 '12 at 17:44
  • Please check Update 1. – John Siu Dec 23 '12 at 22:51

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