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rd42 05-13-2010 09:06 AM

Switch User at screen lock
In our cluster of RedHat4 & 5 machines, if someone locks the computer and walks away no body can use it. Is there a feature in RedHat5, Gnome, KDE etc that would allow for the option of switching users at the lock screen, so more than one person can be logged in?

Thanks, rd42

alli_yas 05-14-2010 05:00 AM

Isn't the point of locking a machine to prevent others from accessing it?

If you have a box that needs to be accessed by multiple users; perhaps people you rather logout of the machine once done; instead of locking it?

rd42 05-14-2010 07:56 AM


Isn't the point of locking a machine to prevent others from accessing it?
They don't have root so if it functions like XP their activities are locked while the new user starts a entirely new session.

The users lock the PCs because they are running simulations that take some time to complete. So if all 20 or pcs are running day long simulations the room can't be used for new runs until one finishes.

alli_yas 05-17-2010 03:37 AM

I've done a fair amount of searching for a solution to your problem; I've found that Fedora supports enabling "Switch User" on the lock screen; but there doesn't seem to be a similar way to do it in RHEL.

If any of the other member's have a solution they can perhaps help you.

As an aside can your students simulations be started via the command line?

If so, you could let them shell into a screen and kick off a simulation; and detach without killing that process - in that way other users can still login to the GUI.

Also; take into account that allowing those "simulations" to run in parallel with someone doing miscellaneous actions on the box; can result in the resources being exhausted; and thus simulation data being lost due to a crash etc.


rd42 05-17-2010 08:33 AM

In another forum I found this solutions that fixed the problem for me:


1. CTRL ALT F1-12
2. Goes to login prompt -> login
3. startx -- :1 7 most likely already in use but the gui you just dropped out of.

That can be controlled by starting login prompts on
all console terminals, leaving ONLY the unused ones (1/2/3...) available for usenwith X. I believe the default number of console terminals is 12, so assuming that, I have:

F1 - available for X by default
F2-6 -login terminals
F7-12 available for X

To configure the login terminals cd into /etc/event.d. The files tty1-6 are the existing definitions, so 0,7,8,9,10,11 can be defined. If tty7-10 are created (just copy tty1, and change the references to tty1 to the tty7-10 being created)that will allow only two X servers to exist - one for tty0 (F1), and one for tty11 (F12)

alli_yas 05-18-2010 03:50 AM

Please read

The above solution is not for the question you originally asked about enabling the "Switch User" button. The above switches between run levels and allows rc 3 login - which is a different question altogether.


rd42 05-18-2010 08:28 AM

I did ask for a "feature" that resulted in the ability to switch user. The solution I posted addresses the title, "Switch User at screen lock". I posted it for any one else out there that may be looking for the same thing. If you are using Fedora, it has a switch user feature built-in.

I'm open to suggestions for a new title to the thread if you think it would be helpful.

alli_yas 05-19-2010 03:18 AM


Don't get me wrong - its a good thing that you posted your solution.

But the thing is, your solution is not for "Switching" users. When you "Switch" users the implication is that the box is under the control of a different user; and only that user ala Windows.

But in Linux terms; what your solution does is initialize a different Red Hat run level; and allows a shell login to the box. This could have been achieved without even being in front of the machine itself - that is you could have used a shell client on any machine that is allowed to connect to the RHEL machine in question; and login to the box.

But anyway - I'm glad you found a solution :D


rd42 05-19-2010 08:16 AM

Thanks for the clarification. It actually gives me another question, terminals. I know MS has terminal servers and you have thin clients connecting to the terminal server. I would imagine Linux can more than do the same thing. Now I guess I'm on the search for a thin client.

alli_yas 05-19-2010 10:31 AM

Not sure I fully understand....perhaps give me a use case to contextualize?

rd42 05-19-2010 10:35 AM

I'm not sure what the correct terminology is. I was thinking of a few "dummy" terminals or cheap boxes that connect to a more robust machine. The dummy terminals would just be strong enough to connect over the network and pipe back the desktop. Basically a little box, keyboard and mouse.

alli_yas 05-19-2010 11:23 AM

These "dummy" boxes - are they meant to login to the RHEL command line and execute miscellaneous commands within a shell environment?

If so its as simple as installing a shell client (Putty is a good example) on each box and then giving your "dummy" users access to the "robust" server :)

You can also investigate VNC if a GUI login is what you want to offer to users on the "dummy" machines.

Hope this helps

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