(of a computer) capable of being used by several people at once
A term describing an operating system or application program that can be used by several people concurrently; opposite of single-user. Unix is an example of a multi-user operating system, whereas most (but not all) versions of Microsoft Windows are intended to support only one user at a time.
A multi-user system, by definition, supports concurrent processing of multiple tasks (once known as “time-sharing”) or true parallel processing if it has multiple CPUs.
While batch processing systems often ran jobs for serveral users concurrently, the term “multi-user” typically implies interactive access.
Before Ethernet networks were commonplace, multi-user systems were accessed from a terminal (e.g. a vt100) connected via a serial line (typically RS-232). This arrangement was eventually superseded by networked personal computers, perhaps sharing files on a file server. With the wide-spread availability of Internet connections, the idea of sharing centralised resources is becoming trendy again with cloud computing and managed applications, though this time it is the overhead of administering the system that is being shared rather than the cost of the hardware.
In gaming, both on PCs and games consoles, the equivalent term is multi-player, though the first multi-player games (e.g. ADVENT) were on multi-user computers.
- Multi-user dimension
games (MUD) (Or Multi-User Domain, originally “Multi-User Dungeon”) A class of multi-player interactive game, accessible via the Internet or a modem. A MUD is like a real-time chat forum with structure; it has multiple “locations” like an adventure game and may include combat, traps, puzzles, magic and a simple economic system. A MUD where characters […]
- Multi-user dungeon
- Multi-user shared hallucination
communications, application (MUSH) A user-extendable MUD. A MUSH provides commands which the players can use to construct new rooms or make objects and puzzles for other players to explore. (http://cis.upenn.edu/~lwl/muds.html). (1995-03-16)
[muhl-tee-yoo-zer, muhl-tahy‐] /ˌmʌl tiˈyu zər, ˌmʌl taɪ‐/ noun 1. a computer system in which multiple terminals connect to a host computer that handles processing tasks.