I just received my second 23" monitor and hooked it up up to my NVidia 8800GT graphics card.

Nvidia settings window gives me two options basically: Twinview or separate X screens: - Twinview basically makes both screens virtually into one big screen, which makes both screens be -one- workspace combined. - Separate X screens does allow me to separate workspaces, but does not allow me to switch to a workspace from the other X screen.

I want to be able to access my 4 work spaces regardless of which monitor they are on so I can quickly switch between workspace set-ups. I may just want Pidgin to be on the left monitor and Vim on the right. Or just the other way around.

Is this even possible? If so, can you point me into the right direction (documentation / guides)?

Very much appreciated.

  • don't think it's possible; reason being your two monitors might use differing resolutions and the Xserver provides the same base resolution to each workspace. that's why Twinview works by extending the "base resolution" across both screens. Nov 24 '09 at 20:23
  • would it maybe be possible with another WM? Surely I'm not the first one that wants this kind of setup
    – John
    Nov 24 '09 at 20:42
  • 1
    I think this "problem" of yours is exatcly what I'm looking for. Could you read my question and see if what happened to you is applicable to my scenario? Thanks!! superuser.com/questions/148842/… Jul 8 '10 at 16:03

So, as implemented in KDE And Gnome, this is beyond "not easy" - it's darn near impossible. Here's why: the virtual workspaces are implemented in widgets that run in the window manager. They're implemented with trickery and magic and bound entirely to one window manager running on one DISPLAY.

The window manager, virtual-workspace-management widgets, and client applications all run on the same DISPLAY (as in the $DISPLAY environment variable; typically :0.0) Your second monitor, in non-twinview-mode, is actually running on a separate DISPLAY - probably :0.1 You can verify this by running 'echo $DISPLAY' from a shell prompt in a terminal program on each monitor.

Each DISPLAY is running its own X-server. So, they have no idea about each other's windows, windowmanagers, or virtual workspaces.

I would bet the various tiling windowmanagers will want you to have your monitor in twinview mode. Then they can carefully work with the real-estate that's in one and in the other, in the same DISPLAY... and fake you into thinking they're two separate "workspaces" (same word but not same meaning as virtual workspaces).

There are numerous X-window issues that would make it quite difficult to move or migrate a running Xwindow client program from one DISPLAY to another seamlessly. Not saying it can't be done; it may have been done... but I'll bet it's buggy or at least limited; I doubt you could move a firefox window playing a video between DISPLAYs, for example.

Hope this helps! -pbr


Have you tried xrandr (try xrandr -q)? It might deliver what you're looking for.

I use an old NVIDIA card with dual outputs at work. I don't use TwinView, or two X servers. I don't even have an xorg.conf; I let Xorg get its settings from HAL.

I currently use nouveau as my driver, although, at one point, I did use the binary blob NVIDIA provides. I use awesome as my window manager, but GNOME and KDE handle xrandr as well, if not better.


There are a number of tiling WMs which will do this (Awesome3, scrotwm, Xmonad, probably dwm and wmii), and you can configure a *box (Open/Flux) to do this. Not aware of a way to do it in KDE or GNOME, at least not easily.

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