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How To Have Multiple Workspaces on Multiple Monitors in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 8

In this article, we will explore how to set up and use multiple workspaces on multiple monitors in Ubuntu. This can be a great way to increase productivity and organize your workflow more effectively.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to have multiple workspaces on multiple monitors in Ubuntu. You can achieve this by using window managers like XMonad or i3, or by configuring TwinView with NVIDIA graphics cards. However, standard desktop environments like KDE or GNOME do not have built-in support for separate workspaces on each screen.

Understanding Workspaces in Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, a workspace is a virtual desktop that allows you to manage and organize your open applications. You can have multiple workspaces, each with different applications open, and switch between them as needed. This is particularly useful when working with multiple monitors, as each monitor can display a different workspace.

Using Window Managers

One way to have multiple workspaces on different monitors in Ubuntu is to use a window manager that supports this feature. Two popular options are XMonad and i3.

XMonad

XMonad is a tiling window manager for X. It is highly configurable and extensible in Haskell. To install XMonad, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install xmonad

In XMonad, each monitor is assigned a separate workspace. You can switch between workspaces using key bindings, which you can customize to your liking.

i3

i3 is another tiling window manager that supports multiple workspaces. It is easy to use and configure. To install i3, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install i3

In i3, you can assign a workspace to a specific monitor and switch between them using key bindings.

Using TwinView with NVIDIA

If you have an NVIDIA graphics card, you can use the TwinView feature to have two separate workspaces on each monitor. This feature is part of the proprietary NVIDIA driver for GeForce graphics cards. Please note that this may not work with ATI graphics cards.

To configure TwinView, you need to modify your xorg.conf file. Make sure to back up this file before making any changes. The exact configuration will depend on your specific setup.

Configuring GNOME

In GNOME, you can use the gnome-tweak-tool to configure workspaces. Under the “Workspaces” tab, you can choose whether all screens should switch workspaces together or individually. To switch between workspaces, you can use the shortcut ALT + CTRL + UP_ARROW/DOWN_ARROW.

To install gnome-tweak-tool, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Limitations and Workarounds

Unfortunately, there is no built-in support in standard desktop environments like KDE or GNOME for having separate workspaces on each screen. However, you can pin specific applications to a visible workspace to emulate a separate workspace.

If you are looking for a specific setup with top and bottom panels on both monitors and application tabs only on the corresponding monitor, this feature is not available yet. You can vote for it on Ubuntu brainstorm to show your interest.

Conclusion

While it may require some additional configuration or the use of specific window managers or drivers, it is possible to have multiple workspaces on different monitors in Ubuntu. This can greatly enhance your productivity and make managing your open applications much easier.

What are workspaces in Ubuntu?

Workspaces in Ubuntu are virtual desktops that allow you to manage and organize your open applications. They can help increase productivity and allow you to switch between different sets of applications easily.

How can I have multiple workspaces on multiple monitors in Ubuntu?

There are a few ways to achieve this. You can use window managers like XMonad or i3 that support multiple workspaces on different monitors. Alternatively, if you have an NVIDIA graphics card, you can use the TwinView feature to have separate workspaces on each monitor.

How do I install XMonad?

To install XMonad, you can use the command sudo apt-get install xmonad in the terminal.

How do I install i3?

To install i3, you can use the command sudo apt-get install i3 in the terminal.

Can I use TwinView with ATI graphics cards?

No, TwinView is a feature of the proprietary NVIDIA driver for GeForce graphics cards and may not work with ATI graphics cards.

How can I configure workspaces in GNOME?

You can use the gnome-tweak-tool to configure workspaces in GNOME. Install it using the command sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool. Then, under the "Workspaces" tab in the tool, you can choose how screens should switch workspaces (together or individually) and use the shortcut ALT + CTRL + UP_ARROW/DOWN_ARROW to switch between workspaces.

Are there any limitations or workarounds for having separate workspaces on each screen in standard desktop environments like KDE or GNOME?

Unfortunately, there is no built-in support in standard desktop environments like KDE or GNOME for having separate workspaces on each screen. However, you can pin specific applications to a visible workspace to emulate a separate workspace. Additionally, if you have a specific setup in mind, such as top and bottom panels on both monitors and application tabs only on the corresponding monitor, this feature is not available yet, but you can vote for it on Ubuntu brainstorm to show your interest.

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