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#1 2010-07-31 14:04:37

Time Lord
#! Member
Registered: 2010-07-30
Posts: 56

Why do you use multiple desktops?

Hi:

I know the big rage, it seems, is to have multiple desktops in Linux, but I must confess I don't get it. Yes, Compiz allows all kinds of cool effects with them, but from a practical perspective, they don't make sense to me. I can run multiple programs on the same desktop, and just minimize them. Why not just do that, instead of going the more complicated route?

Now, if you could totally customize individual desktops, like with a specific wallpaper, icons, key bindings, etc., that would make sense. I use this desktop for work, this desktop for play, etc. Unfortunately, it seems I can't do that, which makes me a sad panda.

So why do you use multiple desktops?

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#2 2010-07-31 14:12:56

jollysnowman
#! CrunchBanger
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2009-11-17
Posts: 223

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I'm an alt+tab person, so using desktops helps keep the list of applications low. If I'm programming, I'll have two terminals open, two text editors, maybe a browser, I always have skype and pidgin running, and possibly a media player. Having desktops allows me to separate homework from personal, or even one assignment from the other. It's like having a bunch of drawers in your desk.

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#3 2010-07-31 14:31:31

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,418

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

@Time Lord - I don't use multiple desktops either, but if you have lots and lots of windows open, I imagine it can help.

Instead of having say 20 windows on on desktop, it can split it into more manageable chunks like 2x10 or 4x5.

Also if you run applications like GIMP (which have several windows), you can run its own desktop and just switch desktops instead of minimizing all its windows.

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#4 2010-07-31 15:30:15

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 12,286

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

The GIMP is about the best excuse for using multiple desktops I've heard so far.  I suppose if you're into coding and you're working on multiple projects at the same time, putting each project on its own desktop could make it easier to keep track of what's where.


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#5 2010-07-31 16:14:18

johnraff
#!Drunkard
From: Nagoya, Japan
Registered: 2009-01-07
Posts: 2,859
Website

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

Time Lord wrote:

Now, if you could totally customize individual desktops, like with a specific wallpaper, icons, key bindings, etc., that would make sense. I use this desktop for work, this desktop for play, etc. Unfortunately, it seems I can't do that...

This would really be great - different panels with different launchers, different icons (ie multiple "Desktop" folders I guess), yeah and all the things you mentioned. I suppose the nearest you can get at the moment is to log in as different people! So what we want is to be able to switch to and fro between a number of different user profiles, while keeping ownership of the same set of files. Like, if you could swap around with all the config dotfiles in your home folder, and have the changes picked up instantaneously smile

...some day maybe.


John
--------------------
( a boring Japan blog , idle twitterings  and GitStuff )
#! forum moderator

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#6 2010-07-31 17:48:13

aaro
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-11-15
Posts: 648

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

They're especially useful for those lazy people at work, so they can have one desktop with their facebook, instant message and online gaming stuff and in another desktop the numeric data sheet work they're supposed to be doing so when the boss comes around they just have to switch desktops instead of having to minimize all the other windows big_smile...
seriously, for me they're very useful, i'm ok with two of them, one with the usual web browsing, xchat, and the other for programming or virtual machine, or may be it could be just empty so when you want to take a rest you can select it and enjoy the calm of your beautiful empty desktop... they just let you separate/organize your desktop usage. But like everything is up to the user preferences.


- closed account - gone to better places -

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#7 2010-07-31 18:02:09

FiniteStateMachine
Part of the Machine
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2009-06-29
Posts: 1,489

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I don't use multiple desktops when i have my two monitor setup running. I have enough screen space for it to not be an issue.
However, when i use my laptop on the go, i do use multiple desktops. I have a single 1366x768 screen in that case, and i couldn't imagine not having the extra desktops.

I use multiple desktops because it keeps the windows arranged the way i like it, and gives me more screen real estate then i normally have.
For example, if i browse the web on my laptop, i always maximize it, otherwise it seems too small for my tastes. I also like to listen to music while i'm browsing, and usually have another task or two going on.

Lets say I'm at school working on a programming project. I have one workspace with my music player on it, maybe the calculator, perhaps an Instant Messenger, and probably transmission.
On another workspace i have a maximized browser, and on a final workspace i have a terminal and geany which I am coding in.

There is absolutely no way to do what I just described on a laptop without multiple desktops.
You ask the difference between these multiple desktops, and just minimize/maximize. The fact is, things get awfully cluttered with min/max setups. Lets say i'm coding along, and i need to google search something, so i maximize the browser. Now i want to change music, so i pull that up. To get back to work i now need to minimize both the music, and the browser, and i can't easily reference anything off the browser, without resizing the window.

It is much, much ,much easier for me to have everything laid out exactly as i like it, and then just press ctrl+alt+left or right. Once you get used to that combo of keys, its actually much more efficient and time-saving than it is to min/max. And when i switch to change the music, it doesn't have an effect on any of my other work, I can also use it to reference my browser while coding quickly.



Even in a simplier, every-day application scenario, it's nice to be able to quickly switch to a seperate desktop and change the music, see how my torrents are doing, and maybe edit my todo list for the day, without having them clutter my workspace.


just call me...
~FSM~

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#8 2010-07-31 21:28:21

Tunafish
#! Die Hard
From: the Netherlands
Registered: 2010-03-07
Posts: 1,204

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I use one desktop...
i can't get used to more desktops... keep forgetting i have apps running somewhere, try to open them again... hmm


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#9 2010-07-31 21:46:49

pitje
#! Junkie
From: me to you
Registered: 2009-02-10
Posts: 437
Website

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I'm a heavy keyboard-user and at work (webdev), with one monitor, I've got 4 desktops: one for my browsers, one for my editor, one for IM and mail, and one for miscellaneous tasks (terminal, ftp, filemanager). Works like a charm smile
That in comination with my lefthanded mouse and multiple keyboard-shortcuts, really scares the hell out of anyone using my computer big_smile

At home I've also set up 4 desktops, but it's a dual-monitor system, so I tend to stay on one desktop.

I guess it's just what you've made yourself used to smile


oh yeah? well, your momma dresses you funny and you need a mouse to delete files

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#10 2010-08-01 05:49:04

futuremonkey
Member
Registered: 2009-03-31
Posts: 12

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I don't use compiz; I like the fact that eye candy is available, but I don't have any use or need for it.  I keep my systems fairly utilitarian regardless of which OS I'm using.  My Windows 7 desktop doesn't look terribly different from my old Windows 2000 desktop, for example. 

I do, however, ADORE multiple desktops.  They are extremely useful for the way I tend to use my computers.  I'm pretty scatter-brained, and tend to have eleventy windows open at the same time, all devoted to various aspects of a single task. 

I have been using computers heavily since about 1986, but honestly I still have pretty much no idea what the hell I'm doing.  Really.  I get stuck on the simplest stuff.  I often find that the easiest way to solve my own problems is to post a plea for help on one forum or another.  Much of the time, it turns out that I am suddenly hit with an epiphany 5 or 6 minutes after submitting my post, and I mysteriously figure out the solution to my own problem.  Of course, by then 599 forum readers have seen my post and rolled their eyes and sighed at yet another person too stupid to read the man pages.

Anyway, to the point.  On one desktop I may be trying to figure out why my latest stupid shell script doesn't work the way I expect it to.  I've got 2 or 3 terminals open, a Geany window, Chrome or Firefox or both with 9 million tabs full of Google searches that don't actually help much,

On the second desktop, I typically have a browser open with all sorts of time-wasting diversions.  These two xkcd comics describe it perfectly:

http://xkcd.com/609/
http://xkcd.com/761/

If prisoners were given access to wikipedia and tvtropes, a 10-year sentence would almost seem like a holiday.

The third desktop may or may not be related to the first desktop.  It's sort of a "scribble zone".

The fourth desktop is a sanctuary.  No windows are open.  It's there in case I just need to do one quick thing that seems more "comfortable" on a clean desktop.  Like move a few files or unzip an archive, or write a quick email.

Add more desktops as you desire. 

The point is that each individual desktop can be devoted to a workflow or mindset that may not necessarily be compatible with other things you want or need to do.

I didn't really understand the point of multiple desktops when I first encountered them.  Now, I feel a bit crippled when I  use a GUI that doesn't have them.

Last edited by futuremonkey (2010-08-01 05:51:22)

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#11 2010-08-01 19:47:48

Invictus51
Member
From: Fairbanks, Alaska
Registered: 2010-06-17
Posts: 44

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I definitely utilize my multiple desktop setup, especially on my laptop.  Only having a 1024x600 screen makes not having multiple desktops a nightmare, as described above in FSM's post.  On my desktop at home, which is a dual monitor setup, i have 4 desktops, however i hardly ever use more than 2.  I don't do any coding or anything like that, but i do tinker around a lot in the terminal, so i usually have a browser open on one desktop, and music on another with skype and pidgin open.  Then if i need to open a couple terminals, i do it on a third desktop.  In most situations i can just use tilda to do a lot of my terminal tasks, like when i'm just searching around for something, but it's pretty nice to have a desktop dedicated to a fullscreen terminal.


Laptop(s): Acer Aspire One A110L Arch Linux w/ Scrotwm 16 Gb SSD
Desktop: Custom Rig #!, Archbang, and windows...(blegh)
                 I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

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#12 2010-08-01 21:35:36

FiniteStateMachine
Part of the Machine
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2009-06-29
Posts: 1,489

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

futuremonkey wrote:

The fourth desktop is a sanctuary.  No windows are open.  It's there in case I just need to do one quick thing that seems more "comfortable" on a clean desktop.  Like move a few files or unzip an archive, or write a quick email.

I never realized how often  i prefer a desktop like this when using multiple file manager windows. Other cases too, but a 'sanctuary' desktop is actually more useful the more I think about it.


just call me...
~FSM~

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#13 2010-08-31 13:33:57

jackbang
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2009-05-28
Posts: 244

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

"i can't get used to more desktops... keep forgetting i have apps running somewhere, try to open them again..."

You're lucky you're not using a Mac, where you pretty much use the application launcher, aka the "dock" to navigate windows, as well as launch.  Meaning the icons change function on context - most of the time hitting the firefox icon will switch you to the firefox window, except if it isn't running in which case it launches it.  Dunno why the Mac interface is lauded, some of the fundamentals are completely broken IMHO.

At least it has mutlidesktops, and expose works well enough, but there's no decent taskbar window switcher by default.

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#14 2010-08-31 15:51:47

Pagan
Member
From: Seattle
Registered: 2010-07-18
Posts: 16
Website

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

Me, I not only have dual monitors but I also use multiple desktops plus I also have the 3D effects turned on for ..... yes ..... productivity reasons

1.  Dual Monitors, when analyzing tcpdumps
2.  Dual Monitors when other OS's thru VMWare
3.  Multiple Desktops for organizing things like I'll have apps like my email on one Desktop, Web on another, network traces on another, etc. etc.
4.  Tranparency, it's great when you're following examples for scripts and what not on the Web with the terminal on top of the browser and you can see it behind

There are actually a number of good reasons not just "eye candy" to run multiple desktops and the 3D effects


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#15 2010-08-31 17:10:04

Morley
#! CrunchBanger
From: Albuquerque
Registered: 2010-02-17
Posts: 178

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I love having multiple desktops.  I usually end up using three or four.  Each desktop gets its own "theme", I suppose ... it is easy and convenient for me to keep different tasks grouped by desktop, with keyboard commands of some kind to quickly switch from one to the other.  For example, one desktop will have Synaptic, a terminal, and file manager open, if I am downloading and installing a bunch of stuff.  Another might have Xboard open, analyzing a chess game, with a web browser open to some chess website.  Another might then have a bunch of documents open, if I am writing a paper, etc.  Virtual machines tend to get their own desktop as well.  This is what works best for me ... I do lots of things at once, and having multiple desktops helps me keep everything separate and organized.


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#16 2010-08-31 17:20:35

Unia
#! Octo-portal-pussy
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2010-07-17
Posts: 3,916

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

Normally - that'd be browsing the internet and having some IM conversations - I can do just fine with one desktop.
But when I'm listening to music I use two desktops - one for the regular browsing and chatting and the other one for full screen Exaile. Also, when I'm doing some assignments for school I like having a full screen browser on one desktop and Abiword on the other. (and maybe Exaile on the 3rd one tongue)


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#17 2010-08-31 17:30:23

hhh
Caught in the Vortex
Registered: 2010-08-04
Posts: 1,889

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

Time Lord wrote:

Now, if you could totally customize individual desktops, like with a specific wallpaper, icons, key bindings, etc., that would make sense.

You can't do individual icons AFAIK, but multiple wallpapers is easy with XFCE and the Compiz Wallpaper plugin. Assign one to each desktop, kill xfdesktop (and set it to not restart in Startup and Sessions) and logout/login. With the Expo plugin enabled you can easily zoom out to see what's open and drag windows to other workspaces. Here's a setup I used when I was doing more artwork and would have Gimp and Inkscape open at the same time (this is the Expo view)...

screenshot0831201001185.png

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#18 2010-08-31 19:17:24

FiniteStateMachine
Part of the Machine
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2009-06-29
Posts: 1,489

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

@hhh couldn't you just remove xfdesktop?


just call me...
~FSM~

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#19 2010-08-31 20:16:54

hhh
Caught in the Vortex
Registered: 2010-08-04
Posts: 1,889

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

FSM, you mean remove it from the system? i never did that because I figured I might want it again (I did!), but it looks like you can...

sudo apt-get remove xfdesktop4

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#20 2010-08-31 20:42:21

FiniteStateMachine
Part of the Machine
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2009-06-29
Posts: 1,489

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

Yes, i meant remove it from the system, if you were deadset on using compiz. But i guess it makes sense if you might need to use it again (its pretty small).


just call me...
~FSM~

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#21 2010-09-01 15:37:49

Awebb
The Singularity
Registered: 2009-07-23
Posts: 2,812

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I use multiple desktops on my laptop and other mobile devices, because they usually have only one screen. I have no real urge to use them on my desktop-pc, since I have plenty of space for multiple simulatanious tasks with two big screens attached.

But I recently found my interest in software developement buried under tons of kanji and info about DSL faults. I won't have much time to play games anymore, so I won't boot windows alot, means my Arch box gets more attention...

I devide different tasks in different viewports (I don't like the term "desktop" beeing used for something else than a table for paperwork or a non-mobile, non-server computer):

  • Primary to-do, like doing research on whatever topic I'm currently interested, coding, writing a letter, tax declarations ect. pp

  • Email, task-unrelated surfing for fun, managing torrents, organizing media. Pretty much the every day stuff

  • Suspended tasks. It often happens that I'm doing something when something else comes up. I don't want to save and close the project, so I move it here to deal with it later. I also move windows here that don't need permanent attention, like progress windows of video converters, compilers and so on.

  • One viewpornt is for fiddling with the system. Updates, installing new software, messing with configuration files and - if I'm not too lazy - taking notes about what I've done. However, I don't switch the viewport for simple tasks, I have got tilda for such things.

This is the "normal mode". I'm not stuck in this concept, if a project needs to be dealt with in different tasks, I divide them between to viewpoints, if the number of windows gets too high.


I'm so meta, even this acronym

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#22 2010-09-02 14:40:31

luc
#! Die Hard
From: Munich, Germany
Registered: 2010-03-21
Posts: 561

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

jackbang wrote:

but there's no decent taskbar window switcher by default.

I must say that I am much happier with the use of "cmd+tab" to switch applications and "cmd+<", "cmd+>" to switch windows of ONE application on the mac then with "alt+tab" to switch between windows of all application. I think it is some kind of logical, hierarchical navigating which just is fitting for me.

About multiple desktops:
I use and like them (miss them every time I use win) basically because of the things which have been said before, i.e. grouping windows in a way that represents the logic of my workflow. And also because I am using a laptop 13" screen and like to run stuff in fullscreen (browsing, reading, coding)

luc

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#23 2010-09-03 14:19:22

freedomweasel
Member
From: NC, USA
Registered: 2010-08-09
Posts: 35

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

I had tried multiple desktops out on multiple machines several years ago when I first found out about them, but never really found a practical use for them.
Now I have a 12" netbook and I really like having a browser/chat/ on one desktop with terminal/editor on the other.  It isn't *that* much faster than alt+tab, or clicking the icon down in the task bar, but I do enjoy it.  Still don't think I'd use it on my desktop though.

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#24 2010-09-03 19:14:32

hhh
Caught in the Vortex
Registered: 2010-08-04
Posts: 1,889

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

@luc, for virtual desktops on Windows I use Dexpot...
http://dexpot.de/index.php?id=home

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#25 2010-10-21 19:11:17

Digit
#! Die Hard
From: the internet
Registered: 2009-05-26
Posts: 1,034
Website

Re: Why do you use multiple desktops?

heh, stumpled across this in a search... tis the kinda thread i like to respond to..  ^_^

Time Lord wrote:

Hi:

I know the big rage, it seems, is to have multiple desktops in Linux, but I must confess I don't get it. Yes, Compiz allows all kinds of cool effects with them, but from a practical perspective, they don't make sense to me. I can run multiple programs on the same desktop, and just minimize them. Why not just do that, instead of going the more complicated route?

doesnt it get rather cluttered on one desktop?  or do you never open that many things at once?

Time Lord wrote:

Now, if you could totally customize individual desktops, like with a specific wallpaper, icons, key bindings, etc., that would make sense. I use this desktop for work, this desktop for play, etc. Unfortunately, it seems I can't do that, which makes me a sad panda.

i dont really see this as so much a practical benefit as a frivolous vanity benefit.

Time Lord wrote:

So why do you use multiple desktops?

makes it far faster for finding whichever app i'm needing at the moment.

helps me naturally organize stuff.   like i might tend to keep most of my chats on one workspace, taking one with me to another workspace wherever it may be relevent, or just incase i wanna follow a conversation while i work.

lets me keep fewer things on the deskop i'm currently doing something on, so i can much more quickly alt-tab through to the other windows on that workspace, rather than cycling through dozens of icons trying to find the correct one.

handy for throwing something outta the way for later (usually desktop 9 for that)

lets me leave things open and in a convenient space, layed out unclutterdly, so i may return to it later, often things like file searches.

tend to vibe virtualbox it's own, lest i'm really workin hard on developing something in it.  if it's just to poke around tho, on its own it tends to go.

some apps like gimp, inkscape, audacity, i tend to want to give their own desktop.




first time i saw multiple desktops (kde3, suse9.1(i think), late2003/early2004), i was sooo amazed... but took me a while to start to properly make use of them,

simply though, once i started making use of multiple desktops, i began to wonder how the fudge i ever managed to survive on a single desktop.

it's just better.

... and even more so when u have keyboard shortcuts to jump around through 'em.

Last edited by Digit (2010-10-21 19:12:45)

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