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#1 2012-11-07 12:48:28

Shapeshifter
Member
Registered: 2008-03-11
Posts: 230

Separate virtual desktops for different physical screens?

Hello.

I've been fighting with this problem for years and I've never found a good solution. At the moment, I use compiz as a standalone WM (without any DE). This works great for 1 screen but if I connect another screen and extend (not clone) the desktop, I run into a significant problem:

Virtual Desktops are switching on both screens at the same time. In other words, it seems like virtual desktops stretch across all connected screens. If I open an application on the left screen and then go to the right screen and change virtual desktops on the right screen, the virtual desktop is also changed on the left screen. In my eyes, this is a terrible UI paradigm. The whole purpose of having several screens is being able to work on several things at the same time, dedicating screens to individual work units.

An example:
I would usually dedicated one screen to whatever I'm working on, e.g. a bunch of terminals and a fullscreen vim where I'm writing code. On the other screen, I might have firefox open to research APIs etc., but I would also want to use that second screen to view email or chat on IRC. Naturally, I would put my email and IRC on different virtual desktops on the second screen. But now, if I want to change virtual desktops from firefox to my email or to IRC, the workspace on my primary (programming) display also switches (to empty virtual desktops). I want it keep my programming stuff, not switch away!

The one and only instance where it makes sense to switch virtual desktops on all screens at the same time or treat all displays as one workspace in general is when you have clusters of screens with narrow borders and you're basically "building a huge screen out of several screens". In a normal desktop environment, I don't see any point in this behavior.

The problem is that pretty much all (non-tiling) WMs I found are behaving this way, it's not just compiz. There seems to be an ugly hack for Openbox but I'm not sure how well it works. Does anyone have any experience with that? The only solution I know to this problem is to use separate X screens, but then I can't move windows across screens anymore and on top of that, focus behavior is very strange (i.e. closing an application on screen 1 may or may not move focus to some other window on screen 2, meaning that the next keyboard short-cut I use will apply to screen 2, even though I was working on screen 1, closing a window. It's really messed up!)

In general, does anyone use a multi-head setup with individual workspaces but using the same X screen with the ability to switch virtual desktops per screen?

Thanks!

Last edited by Shapeshifter (2012-11-07 12:50:54)

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#2 2012-11-07 13:57:28

Pajaro
Member
Registered: 2004-04-21
Posts: 883

Re: Separate virtual desktops for different physical screens?

I believe this is not possible. What I do is to press the button to keep the window on all desktops.

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#3 2012-11-07 14:17:30

SidK
Member
Registered: 2011-03-03
Posts: 116

Re: Separate virtual desktops for different physical screens?

You might want to try openbox-multihead. It works very well. I do however point you to the README.MULTIHEAD as prerequisite reading.

Edit: I see you've already found this. To answer your question as to whether it works, yes it works very well. I mostly use a tiling VM but I'm right now in openbox-multihead with 2 monitors and it's great.

Last edited by SidK (2012-11-07 14:21:01)

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#4 2012-11-08 09:02:02

noflex
Member
From: Denmark
Registered: 2011-01-28
Posts: 3

Re: Separate virtual desktops for different physical screens?

If openbox-multihead issn't you, give awesome wm a try. The problem you are having made me shift to awesome, work really great for me.

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#5 2012-11-08 13:19:42

Shapeshifter
Member
Registered: 2008-03-11
Posts: 230

Re: Separate virtual desktops for different physical screens?

Thanks guys. Via openbox-multihead I found wingo which is absolutely brilliant. I'm not easily convinced by nieche WMs but this one works really well with several screens, provides some novel and very clever ways to find windows quickly even with many applications running and it even supports a bit of tiling. It's a very nice mix. I now have a bunch of workspaces tiled for terminals and others floating for regular apps. Displays switch viewports independently! Nice. I can't use a task bar with it but I'm not missing it. Configuration (even of the decoration theme) is simple, too.

Last edited by Shapeshifter (2012-11-08 13:20:53)

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