Multi-user

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Multi-user is a term that defines an operating system or application software that allows concurrent access by multiple users of a computer. Time-sharing systems are multi-user systems. Most batch processing systems for mainframe computers may also be considered "multi-user", to avoid leaving the CPU idle while it waits for I/O operations to complete. However, the term "multitasking" is more common in this context.

An example is a Unix server where multiple remote users have access (such as via Secure Shell) to the Unix shell prompt at the same time. Another example uses multiple X Window sessions spread across multiple terminals powered by a single machine - this is an example of the use of thin client.

Management systems are implicitly designed to be used by multiple users, typically one system administrator or more and an end-user community.

The complementary term, single-user, is most commonly used when talking about an operating system being usable only by one person at a time, or in reference to a single-user software license agreement. Multi-user operating systems such as Unix sometimes have a single user state or runlevel available for emergency maintenance.

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