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For development, I primarily depend on Eclipse and a GNU Screen session in a terminal. At work, I have dual monitors, and have them usually maximized on each of the screens. When I work from home, I just work on my laptop screen. For optimal solution, I login via SSH and grab the screen session on to it, but for graphical programs such as Eclipse I have tried the following:

  • Enable remote desktop and connect to the console via a VNC viewer. This gives me a one large contiguous screen from both monitors, which makes it slow and scrolling is a pain. Besides, I really only need one side of the screen, as the other side (running GNU Screen) is already taken care of via ssh.
  • As a workaround I tried running graphical programs (such as eclipse) in a separate vncserver instance. This would allow me to connect to this alternative VNC session from home. However, this requires me to also do the same when at work. However, I would like to make this as seamless as possible, so tried vncviewer -fullscreen option, but the screen ended up spanning both monitors, with the actual screen centered (covering only half of each monitor, with the other two halves remained black).
  • There is probably a 3rd solution that I didn't try, which would involve configuring both monitors as two different displays and connecting only to one of the monitors when at home. This might work fine, but I loose some flexibility to rearrange windows when at office.

I prefer the 2nd solution and wonder if there is a good VNC viewer that would allow me to run it in fullscreen, but span only one of the monitors. If there are other better options that I am not aware of, I would like to hear them too.

I almost forgot, I also tried a 4th approach using a program called WindowSwitch. This would allow you to move windows from one session to another, which is a very clever and useful extension of vncserver at individual application level. But in reality it was very flaky and buggy, so only had a partial success.

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Try using xrdp to run your VNC session. You can specify the screen size when you open the session. When I first tried it, I found it wasn't stable, but recent releases seem very stable. See my experiences with Remote Desktops with VNC and RDP for some ideas.

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Xrdp solution sounds interesting, I will try that out and see if that will be more acceptable. Your article is very useful and has solutions for a couple of issues I wanted to solve before (like having the login screen on the right screen). – haridsv Apr 9 '11 at 3:48
I have only had a limited chance to use xrdp so far, but it seems to work well. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting and it worked as expected. Currently IT is reinstalling the OS, so I am going to try full scale testing in a couple of days. – haridsv Apr 12 '11 at 21:00
I have had a few more hours of experience with xrdp and it seems to be stable. The only issue I noticed is that the first time I connect, I only get a black screen, but when I disconnect and reconnect, it works fine. This seems to happen every time. I couldn't get the clipboard to work though, running "vncconfig -nowin" makes the session get disconnected. – haridsv Apr 14 '11 at 21:46
BTW, this is where I got the xrdp 0.5: – haridsv Apr 14 '11 at 21:51

Try specifying specific vncserver geometry for your needs:

$ vncserver -geometry <WIDTH>x<HEIGHT>
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When I start a secondary session using vncserver, I do specify a geometry, but when connecting to the console session, you just get whatever is the total dimension that is already there. – haridsv Apr 9 '11 at 3:49

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