Category Archives: News

Emerging Roadmap for Linux Multiseat

BackThe 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.

Four $99 UD-160-A Terminals off a single $299 netbook
usb multiseat with Edubuntu

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 …

Plugable USB 2.0 Universal Dock

The elves have been busy, trying to get our first product to market within the month.

And so, we’re proud to announce that the Plugable Universal USB 2.0 Docking Station (UD-160-A) is now — as of Saturday night — for sale on Amazon here in the US. And at a price around or better than any other product with similar functionality.

Because the product fulfillment is handled by Amazon, so you get their reliable same-day turnaround on orders. And all of Amazon’s consumer-focused guarantees and order support.

For more of the product details, see:
And for support forums, see:

This is a surprisingly flexible and useful device. But that can also make it hard to picture before you have one in hand. So over the coming weeks, look for a series of posts here about how to make the most of the Plugable dock, including some of the most interesting and valuable use cases on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Plug and play multiseat presentation

In getting more background from this talk, it was great to review the videos on and with all the history and background on the concept of low-cost multiseat.  Didn’t want too much history in slides, but it will come up verbally, and it’s a rich and interesting history.

The one comment the presentation generated was “what happened to all the other people on earth?” :)

Plug and Play Multiseat – Sides for Linux Plumbers Conference BoF Sept 23, 2009.

Hopefully the outcome of the conference will be more awareness and energy directed towards making this stuff “just work”.

Plug and play multiseat

[Update March 2011, the Plugable DC-125 USB Docking Client has launched]

At the annual Linux Plumber’s Conference next week in Portland, OR, I’ve signed up for a session Wednesday afternoon on plug and play multiseat.  The hope is to discuss and encourage integrating support for this scenario and hardware into Linux.

Love the conference name. No cracks about Mario throwing a wrench in the demo.

Generosity, karma, and cakes

A FedEx truck pulled into the driveway this morning. Ring – Ring.  Delivered a box, addressed to me. It was marked “perishable”, from “The Secret Spoon” company.  No other description on the otherwise white box.

Wow, weird. What is this?  My birthday isn’t this month – must be work related.

Here I am just in the earliest stages of getting things going with Plugable, having just finished at DisplayLink last month – and still feeling guilty about all I chose to leave behind.

The return address is San Diego.   Yesterday, I had some first calls with my ODM contacts about getting devices produced – boy, if this is them, they are crazy and eager.  Doubt it.

I carry it to the kitchen, and Laurie and I huddle around it, making guesses as we open it.  It’s packed in ice for overnight delivery.  No hint yet who it’s from.

And in the middle is a wonderful chocolate cake, with a card.

Good luck in the future, Bernie
With very best wishes from
your friends in Cambridge

Wow.  That’s so cool.  Kind, generous, and surprising.  And very touching to have anyone spend the time to do that.

Karma is real, not in a mystical way, but practically.  This is a surprisingly big world, and yet also a surprisingly small one. We will meet again.  And people notice how others are treated.

So to my friends in Cambridge – you’re wonderful!  So long, and thanks for all the cake1 (and may the hyperspacial express route not cross your path).

Please don’t be shy to call or email anytime.