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I'm running a program that uses WatiN to automate file uploads to different websites. I currently run it on a machine that I remote into via the standard Remote Desktop Connection in Windows - once I start an upload, I go ahead and continue using my local machine. Soon, I'll be needing to run it locally. The problem is that it requires focus (which is unavoidable due to WatiN utilizing SendKeys) and I of course don't want to render my machine useless while it runs.

So, my question: Is there any way to emulate the multiple desktops/workspaces that have been in many Linux distros for some time? I tried VirtuaWin to no avail.

Alternatively, is there a way to remote into a machine from itself? Or is there some other means of creating a separate session on the same machine that does not steal focus? Running Linux is not an option, and a VM would be overkill.

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Since there are tons of options available via other questions on this site, it would be helpful if you tried them first and mentioned which fail. – Daniel Beck Jan 11 '11 at 16:57
@Daniel - Thanks for the links, will check the mentioned options out and update my question accordingly if none of them fit my needs. – John Straka Jan 11 '11 at 18:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Check mdesktop out. This is an open source solution for multiple desktops. Very easy to use and configure.

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@Jeff, please could you flesh out your answers to more than just a link to another site. It is considered good form to provide some benefits or reasons to go to the site you linked. – Mokubai Jan 12 '11 at 14:07
Thanks - this client works and is nice and simple. I guess what I was ideally hoping for would be the ability to have a different desktop displayed on each monitor (I'd like to keep an eye on the automated process), but it doesn't look like any available offerings have that functionality. – John Straka Jan 12 '11 at 14:50
@Mokubai My apologies. I was feeling less ambitious at the time :) I've updated my answer. – Jeff F. Jan 12 '11 at 17:41
@John Straka I know in Xwin(Linux) you can have multiple sessions open under one log in which would accomplish this, but I'm not so sure if it's possible in Windows. – Jeff F. Jan 12 '11 at 17:44
@Jeff No worries, it was a good link nonetheless, it's just that with link-only answers you don't really have a clue what is going to be at the other end so a little description can go a long way. :) – Mokubai Jan 12 '11 at 17:49

Not sure if this would work, but if you set up a separate user account on the machine, log in as that user and kick off the process, then Switch User back to your regular account. Something to try anyway. If neither that nor the virtual desktop idea Jeff suggested work, you're probably going to have to go the VM route.

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I am running a VM at work for a similar reason and I would tend to agree with it's use. Just make sure you have pleant of RAM (I use 4GB) especially if you don't want to bog down your physical machine. – danbo Jan 11 '11 at 18:26
Went ahead and tried this, when switching users my (necessary) VPN connection disconnects. I wouldn't mind going the VM route, but my work surprised me a few months ago when they proved that it is possible to buy a new desktop in 2010 with only 2GB of RAM. – John Straka Jan 12 '11 at 14:47
I know that feeling, working with a 2009 model with 2 gig itself. I did also try the remote desktop to itself as a curiosity last night and it refused to allow it since when you log into Windows you are, in essence, already "remoting" into your box. – BBlake Jan 12 '11 at 21:22

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