For instance, in Gnome, I can set up multiple Gnome workspaces. But when I add a second monitor, all I get is my current workspace extended onto the second monitor. I hate it. Every time I run a full screen application I lose the second monitor, and have to go re-enable the stretched desktop after I close the application.

Also, I don't want separate X servers. I want to be able to move windows between workspaces. Also, it would be nice to be able to switch workspaces independently on each monitor.

Is there a window manager that has this kind of functionality? I'm surprised Compiz doesn't do it. They have the desktop cube. Switching workspaces independently only seems natural in that case.

  • P.S. apparently what complicates things is that the workspaces are all set to a certain resolution and your monitors may have different resolutions. But why can't it be that the usable area of your workspace is limited by the resolution of the monitor you're using to view it. You should be able to view the same workspace on two different monitors with two different resolutions. Maybe it's impossible to do this in Gnome, but surely someone has implemented this somehow. Sep 22, 2011 at 20:37
  • 1
    perhaps Wayland is the answer http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=OTA5Mg Sep 22, 2011 at 20:50

6 Answers 6


Awesome Window Manager has this functionality. I use it, though only on a single screen, but the entire WM seems to be built around the idea of multiple screens. If you edit the rc.lua configuration file, you can specify different sets of workspaces (or "tags" in Awesome's slightly different conception of a workspace), different backgrounds, etc. on each screen. It's a powerful framework.

  • I have used awesome-wm on two monitors (laptop display + 1 external) for several years. I have a second set of workspaces (tags in awesomese), i.e. 9 virtual workspaces on one screen, and another independant 9 on the other screen, for 18 total different buckets to put windows in. It's pretty convenient, and I love it. May 21, 2020 at 3:12

This should be possible without too much pain and suffering. I don't know if Metacity supports this behavior but Xmonad does. Looks like other people have had some success with this kind of setup as well (see here and here).

  • I can confirm this works with Xmonad. Feel free to use my xmonad.hs and .xmobarrc config files to get it running.
    – user111228
    Jan 5, 2012 at 0:38

https://www.enlightenment.org/ can do this, too. Separate workspaces is a must-have for me, too.


Wayfire and Sway both have it.

Its difficult to implement separate virtual desktops on separate monitors with X11 but not Wayland.

Kwin(KDE) and Mutter(Gnome) have just been ported to Wayland so they might have this functionality in future but I think almost all Wayland Window managers which are built for Wayland and are not ported from X11 will have this functionality natively


Randr panning might have helped if it worked, for original query.

Another solution (to the resolution issue in the posted reply above) would be to make randr pan the larger screen on the smaller DISPLAY. aliter randr could scale the lower screen size onto the larger display There was also some hidden area detection and mouse bound checking and when panning across different resolution.

randr panning aint working right now https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=39949


dunno if this is any help but you can possibly use the xorg conf to achieve the concept of this http://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=12180

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