Multi-user support

Personally, I would love to see multi-user accounts being brought forward to Beta4, not sure if it’s feasible though. Multi-user accounts are a thing on all major operating systems, and so they are an important feature for Haiku to implement.

Also, it would be really good if we could have a Beta4 release of @X512’s RISC-V port - I am fairly confident, with all the wonderful work that they are doing, that that will happen :slight_smile:

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I’m curious as to why you want multi-user accounts. Aside from handing my Android phone to someone to read something, no one (other than myself) has used my computer in at least ten years. Haiku being single-user is a major plus for me. No sudo. No UAC. No login.
I think that a better way to share a PC, is to create a seperate install / partition for each user. Haiku doesn’t need much disk space.

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Well, when I say multi-user accounts I also mean the ability to actually set a password/PIN for your PC for security, even for single users.

That’s a very valid point. I’m a desktop PC person so there is less chance of me losing my computer, but I see your point, particularly for travellers with laptops.

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Password has a little meaning without disk encryption. It can be easily removed.

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For technical users, yes. But prior to recent years, there was no such protection in most systems, and yet people still liked the feature. It’s still good to include for the sake of multiple customizable user profiles and a basic barrier to seeing each others’ data, even if it’s not yet a true security feature. It can be expanded on later.

Multi user support is a mandatory first step for a thing that I find absolutely essential to any computers being used in a family environment: parental control

  • being able to limit/block kids session time
  • limit/monitor program access
  • limit/monitor internet access
  • prevent installation of unwanted programs/accelerants/add-ons

Simply implementing separate partitions will not cover this requirement, and separate partitions are still accessible so there is nothing preventing my younger kid to mess with my eldest homework, or my kids messing my administrative documents (apart from implementing password restricted access, encryption, but it will quickly turn out that once you have implemented these functionalities, you are actually very close to multi-user support).

That being said, for your use case maybe it could be possible to have the option to automatically open a session if only one user is available on the system?

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The best way is not share PC at all and let each user have separate physical PC. Cheap laptops are available on the market so it should be not a problem. Especially work PC should be separate from home PC for security reasons, for many companies this is mandatory requirement.

Depends of the usage.
I use my pc for machine learning (personal projects), and the eldest kid for gaming. Buying powerful PCs for everyone in the household is simply not an option (at least not for me).
If use case is simply browsing and document editing I agree that cheap machines can be considered.

It is precisely because there are different use cases that I cannot see how we can do without multiuser support, although multiuser requrement may not be for the majority (but at the same time may not be marginal).

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I agree that if many users need powerful PC, multi-user is useful and save money. But it is probably not often required. Many users are fine with Chromebook or just smartphone.

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This is best addressed by not storing critical documents on a shared machine. USB drives are a better choice here and much more secure than any encryption or password protection.

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Please avoid at all cost making USB drives “jumping from a machine to another”. This is in no way secure (can be lost, will spread malwares across machines, etc…). In particular on an OS where adding kernel add-ons is so trivial.

Again, we are not going to face a single type of usage, and some of these usage will require multi-user support. Granted it may not be the majority but neither will it be negligible.

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I was not advocating ‘jumping from a machine to another’. Just a possible solution for school age kids. Mine had their own floppies. They learned not to lose them.

Agree wholeheartedly. It’s very difficult to predict other people’s use cases.

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On the topic of multi-user and security, it would be really nice if drive encryption would be included, stable and support dmcrypt (LUKS). Axel developed driveencryption ages ago, it may still work on beta3 but I have not tried it.

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I think (can’t remember anymore) that it’s disabled for a reason …

It is disabled because it needs integration with the package system (it should sit in between bfs and packagefs). Launch daemon was developed to help with this, but the work is not complete yet.

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There are likely no use cases in most office environments where an OS without a lock screen and support for multiple users will be used. I’d imagine if we are ambitious at all, we should definitely have it.

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Wouldn’t a mountable disk image (encrypted) resolve the primary usage scenario where users’ files are segregated/protected. On login, it mounts (and decrypts) the disk image, and symlinks the ~/ (home) directory. As an additional benefit, migrating/backing up becomes trivial. Also allow for a common shared area (/common).

That would be the first step towards solving the primary requirement for Multiuser. Add an adminstrator password for pkgman and Haiku depot and we’re 99% covered.

User switching (without logout) can be a R3 thing.

Talk is cheap, however. Interested parties need to roll up their sleaves …

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I seem to remember that multiuser support was discussed as a possible R2 thing during the early Glass Elevator days. Speaking of which, anyone here still know if that is going to get spun back up?

I think these very forums have replaced it? We are tyalking about the future of Haiku here all the time.

I don’t think much more than that got out of the glass elevator back in the days? Maybe some blog posts about how things could work, which are probably long outdated now?