Two Users on One Computer: TUTORIAL! [Simplified]

In this tutorial, you will learn how to setup a Virtual OS within Vista, and use that to concurrently be on the same physical PC.


A computer
Two mice
Two keyboards


For best performance, 4gb of ram
2gb ram is minimum
TWO monitors (you can have just one monitor, but you can't go fullscreen and isnt recommended)
Two soundcards (if you want independent sound)

STEP 1: Install vmWare

Boot up your computer, and pop in the vmWare workstation disc
Follow the instruction guidelines

STEP 2: New Virtual Machine

In the Wizard, choose typical system setup
Follow the wizard for your OS (I have only tried this on Vista Home Premium)
My settings were:
2 Virtual Processors
1 gb of ram
100gb of storage in SCSI
Network configured through Bridged
NOTE: You can change everything but the storage amount

STEP 3: Install and configure OS

After setting up the virtual machine, pop in the Vista Disc and click "Start this Virtual Machine"
Install the OS how you normally would
After install is complete and the OS is running in VMWARE, go to VM>Install VMWARE Tools to install it

NOTE: The most recent version of Vmware Workstation pretty much does the above settings automatically for you, so it's even easier.

STEP 4: The Fun Begins

Go to VM>Removable Devices> and simply click the devices you want to use on the Guest OS

For audio, under VM>settings you can select which sound card to use.

CONGRATS! You can now use your main mouse and keyboard to control the host OS and the secondary mouse and keyboard to control the GUEST OS!!
If you have two monitors, you can use your main mouse to extend the HOST OS desktop, move the VMWARE app to the secondary screen, and go to VMWARE full screen.
You can set it to automatically boot a specific machine and go to fullscreen right away--I have three shortcuts which each goes to different machines on different monitors so you can pretty much start the entire thing in three clicks.

ANY USB DEVICE WORKS WITH THIS. Including mp3 players, external harddrives, printers, etc.


I am running an e8400 3ghz processor, and have not have usage go above 50 % yet
When you set the amount of ram to use for the Guest OS, it partitions that much to it whenever you start the GUEST OS.
For example, when I boot up guest OS it shows a constant 71% usage in the HOST OS, and 38% usage in the GUEST OS.
This is because it gives all the 1gb of ram to the Virtual OS, it doesnt give it when it needs it. Also, when you shutdown the guest OS you get your RAM back :)
You can have as many VM stations as you want, permitting you have enough monitors, mice, etc. You be able to just repeat Step 4 for every user

Have Fun!

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8 answers Last reply
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  1. Congrats!

    Nice to see you got it working.
  2. Hello Akore:
    Your tutorial is really original !
    I searched for methods for a PC being used by two or more people, and this VMWARE is the best (but complex one) one.
    I want to ask you, what are your experiences with the setup until now ? Can you briefly mention them now, since it is almost 6months, you did this.
    One more question, can I use trial version of VMWARE workstation for creating the virtual machines ?
    Did you fixed your sound problem, by adding a sound card or some other way ?

    Appreciate your reply,

    Prasad Nutalapati

    Sorry about the late reply, I've been gone for awhile. Honestly, my setup is incredibly simple. With an update that took place about 4 months ago all you have to do is create your virtual machine, and then in a dropdown menu called "VM" you can see removable devices. All usb devices are listed, so when you startup your machine, you go to the list and click on the inputs you want specific to that machine, it also includes usb harddrives, printers, etc. You dont have to disable anything in the host. With this method, you can have as many machines as you want setup (permitting that you have enough monitors). I am running Vista 32bit Home premium as the host and guest. The host and guest have their own monitors (the guest is in a different room!) In the host you can set what to do with the extra monitors, and for it to work, you just set in as "extended mode". I have the vmware application start in my second (guest) monitor and as an option, you can set it so it starts a specific machine right away, in fullscreen if you want as well(thats what I do). From clicking my shortcut "start" to logging into my virtual computer, it takes about half a minute. The most recent version of vmware has directx 9.0c which works with vista (otherwise theyre would be no hardware acceleration). As for the sound, you can choose which soundcard to use when using the machine. I have two soundcards in my computer, one for host and one for guest, each totally independent and working perfectly. I love my setup, and nothing goes wrong with it unless vista decides to screw stuff up. Also, you dont need to have the same size monitors, my host is 19" and my guest is 22" and both are fullscreen with full resolution. People ask me where the main part is, and when I tell them its the same as the other computer, they get a confused look. Right now, im sending you this message on my guest os. Also, as far as networking goes you can set it to "bridged" which makes the virtual machine appear as a physical computer on the network, so you dont really lose any features. You cant really hardcore game on this best since the max amount of video ram is about 256mb (plus its all software, not the best performing) I do however, watch dvds on my guest os (I have e8400 cpu, 4gb of ram, and 512mb 4850 ati video card) I don't know the limitations of the trial version of vmware workstation. Im thinking about adding another video and sound card and adding one more station for playing around with linux. Sorry for the long reply, but I cant sum up its coolness briefly. I apologize for the lack of paragraphs as well, i just had two finals and Im pretty braindead.

  4. nice work, noted and saved
  5. Hi

    I have been running VMare Workstation 6.0 (recently upgraded to 6.5) in my laptop with an external monitor for a while (Host Win XP SP3 and Guest Win 2003), but when I tried to do what you said in the tutorial my mouse and keyboard didn't appear in the vmware->removable devices, so both keyboard and mouse work synchronously in both machenes: host and guest.

    There is something that I have to configure to do this?
  6. mcaycedo said:

    I have been running VMare Workstation 6.0 (recently upgraded to 6.5) in my laptop with an external monitor for a while (Host Win XP SP3 and Guest Win 2003), but when I tried to do what you said in the tutorial my mouse and keyboard didn't appear in the vmware->removable devices, so both keyboard and mouse work synchronously in both machenes: host and guest.

    There is something that I have to configure to do this?

    That's a setting problem. Before you start up your Guest OS, change the setting under VM/Settings/USB Controller, enable "Show all USB input devices". This option is not available if the guest OS is already started. Then boot up your Guest OS, you should see the two sets of keyboards and mouses in addition to any other USB devices.

    Only enable one set of keyboard and mouse exclusively for the Guest OS by choosing "Connect (disconnect from Host)". Then one set of keyboard and mouse can control the host whenever it is not with the second monitor. The other set can only control the guest. I tried it using Xp x64 as host and xp 32bit as guest. It works quite well! Only thing that I want to improve is to exclude the function of the first set of keyboard and mouse when it happens to be within the guest OS's desktop area, this is the only time the first set of keyboard and mouse can take over the control of the guest OS. I don't know whether it is possible though.
  7. Is there a way to do this 2-way set up with VMware Server instead of Workstation? It's a free product. I glanced at it briefly but didn't see where to configure the hardware.
  8. For dis/connecting devices on host/guest i'll try with devcon.exe, you might check that.

    However I have another question: how to automatically start guest on the second monitor? I don't find any shortcut switch or something.
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