Not too long before I joined the cast of the show, I had been experimenting with 4 users sharing a single, rather low-powered Linux PC. Deepak and I debated almost endlessly whether or not this would be a good, more easily set up, terminal as opposed to a thin client. After deciding the idea has a lot of potential, I let it drop because I never could interest a client in adopting the system. Not even for a secretarial pool.
Many others have tried the idea starting about then and there was a fair base of free and open source software about for implementing such a solution. Now, I appears Novell/SuSE has licked all the rough edges off and is ready to go for gold with it.
This sort of deployment, with 10 users simultaneously sharing one PC, could save an awful lot of money. Not only is less hardware involved, but only one machine requires the attention of administrators or techs. The truth is that most desktop PCs stand idling much or even most of the time and almost without exception can accomplish any task asked of them without using very much of their capacity. So why not share one among many? Call centers, sales desks and even secretarial pools can do this sort of thing without sacrificing performance in the eyes of any one user.
One of my fellow members in our LUG has done this to allow his children to all work off one PC. His set-up has 6 users on one PC. The added benefit is that all the kids are in his office and their Internet use is thus easily monitored.
No one is saying this sort of arrangement is the wave of the future. But it is a solid performer in certain usage patterns and can fit into many operations just fine.