(Ubuntu 9.10) How can I make my external monitor a separate workspace?

Ubuntu has two "workspaces", right now when I hook up the external monitor, it just extends the current workspace into one large one instead of two separate ones.

Video card: Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)

  • Please explain what you mean by 'separate workspace'. Do you want to have two keyboards, two mice, and they each control their own monitor? Or something else?
    – davr
    Nov 6, 2009 at 23:30
  • what model is your video card?
    – user1931
    Nov 6, 2009 at 23:45

5 Answers 5


Assuming your card (and driver) supports it, you probably just need to disable display mirroring and/or enable a large virtual desktop space instead. Intel cards are usually well supported, so it should work. Use the official intel drivers, and try xrandr, if you get stuck.



It explains how to set up a separate X server on each display. However, this creates an entire new windowing environment, not using the workspace system, so you cannot transfer applications from one to the other.

  • 1
    My video card is not Nvidia Nov 7, 2009 at 18:14

You won't be able to move windows and copy text between different workspaces. Do you still need it? ;)

I guess the problem is with some top/bottom panels that extend to the second screen, and fullscreen apps? Then check your Ubuntu display configuration.


That's the realm of the window manager. You can leave your X server configuration the same, and have one large desktop as far as that software is concerned, but still switch workspaces on the two screens independently.

I think the enlightenment window manager does this. I use the awesome window manager, but it's substantially different (better according to me) from the default one you'll see everywhere else.


Perhaps you can explain why you want this. Unless I'm mistaken, the 'workspace' metaphor is specifically for another virtual space, not another physical space. For most applications, it's a benefit to be able to have your applications relate to each other.

In my experience, Gnome lets any app 'fullscreeen' app just expand to the size of the current monitor only, so the need need for separate X sessions is not now what it once was. But perhaps if you say a few words about your requirements someone might have the right idea.

If you really want separation, you may have to look into running a separate X server on each display (though the means will be different than described in thezachperson31's link). Does the idea of running two totally separate (and generally unable to easily communicate with each other) X servers serve your need?

On the other hand this question and answer seems to have filled the bill (and at a bounty price)

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