Where to start? Implementing independent workspace switching with Xinerama

Omari Stephens xsdg+xfcedev at mit.edu
Wed Apr 18 22:57:30 CEST 2007

Olivier Fourdan wrote:
::snip? SNIP!::
> But anyhow, that would not make much sense. If you want to
> haveindependent screens, simply don't use Xinerama;

So, let me backup a bit to my motivation for this.  I have two monitors on my desk.  Separately o n each monitor, I usually use workspaces to group small sets of similar windows; for example, web browsers in one workspace and email in another.

If I am actively using both monitors concurrently, the connection between what is happening on the two monitors is what I am doing at the time.  This is exactly the connection, and this is the only connection.

For example, if I want to follow instructions on installing some piece of software, I might have a web browser on one monitor and a full-screen terminal on the other.  If I encounter a problem and want to ask about it on IRC, I might then want to be able to simultaneously look at my IRC client on one monitor and the terminal on the other monitor.  With multihead, though, if I originally started both the terminal and the IRC client on one monitor, then I'm out of luck (which usually means I have to switch back and forth between workspaces).  This is why I want to use Xinerama: I want to be able to move the IRC client or the terminal to the other monitor so I can continue to take full advantage of the screen real estate that I have available.

To summarize, if there are 3 applications for which I may want to look at some arbitrary pair of them simultaneously, this will require the ability to move windows between monitors.

While using Xinerama, however, I do not want to restrict the windows on one monitor to be grouped with the windows on the other monitor.  As I stated as clearly as I could above, this would cause me to group essentially unrelated applications.  Considering the example I gave, I would either still have to switch between workspaces or I would have to move the IRC client (or the terminal) into a workspace that it is not connected to except for short moments in time.  In my usage pattern, this completely defeats the utility of having workspaces.

In conclusion, I want to be able to switch workspaces on one monitor while leaving the workspace on the other monitor untouched (as far as I'm aware, xfce+multihead does this but xfce+Xinerama does not).  Furthermore, I want to be able to move windows from one monitor to the other (which works in xfce+Xinerama but not xfce+multihead).  If there is a way to do this without using Xinerama, great; I'll pursue that option.  Otherwise, it seems that I need to use Xinerama in a manner for which it wasn't designed, and I'm prepared to do that as well.


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