Virtual Workspaces

I was going through my Google Reader recently and I saw this post about workspaces and started thinking. Didn’t I do a post like that before? I mean, I probably had to, right? Out of all the topics out there, I’m pretty sure I had to mention this at one time or another. Besides, I have a vague recollection of writhing about it.

It turns out I was right. I did write about it last year. Thank you Google! You are by best friend, and nowadays that I actually figured out the site map thing (and by that I mean I found a plugin that will generate them for me) and I’m all indexed up you often work better than the shitty WordPress search. You know what I’m talking about no? If you don’t look for the search box on top of the side bar. That defaults to the internal WordPress search, but I might actually switch it over to the googles one of these days.

Anyways, I digress. Digressing is probably one of the things I do well. It is also one of the reasons why my posts are longer than they need to be most of the time. The other is my tendency to use seven sentences where one would be enough. Being concise is a skill that I have never mastered. I am always amazed when people take my 15 minutes of rambling and abstract it into a 5 words or less. I’m like – wow! Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. Of course being a long winded writer has some benefits – for example I never had to worry about meeting length requirements on school papers. My friends were doing all these tricks with changing the font size, changing the face to the widest one available. I’d just write the damn essay, notice it is 3 pages to long, then cut some stuff out, rewrite bits to be shorter and I was done. And that was when I was speaking strictly on topic. Not like I’m doing now.

Anyway, I re-read my earlier post and decided that – what the hell – let’s talk about this again!

How do you organize your virtual workspaces on your machine? Do you organize your windows based across worskpaces based on some sort of order, or randomly assign them to the virtual desktops on a first come first served basis. I’m surprisingly organized when it comes to my worskspaces. Surprisingly, because you wouldn’t be able to tell that if you had seen my actual desk where everything is arranged using a stack methodology. ANd I mean that literally – I stack things on top of each other until they fall off which is what I call a natural stack distribution.

My virtual workspaces however are nearly arranged like this:


It pretty much goes like this:

  1. Email – first workspace is always for work/school email. My personal email lives on the second desktop because it is web based, but my work and school emails live inside Kmail and always are located on the workspace number one.
  2. Web – second desktop is for firefox, and assorted windows that I use for web browsing, downloading shit from the web and etc..
  3. Code – third desktop always holds my IDE. More often than not it is Komodo Edit which I like because it has limited vim bindings. Sometimes it is Eclipse though.
  4. Virtual Machines – my windows XP instance lives here. I use it to run shitty Windows only software like Monarch, Office 2007 and some other proprietary apps that my company supports.
  5. Stuff – this is the workspace where I open all the random windows that don’t fit anywhere else – like Dolphin for file browsing, random shell windows, random Vim windows, and sometimes Gimp when I need to edit some images (which is almost never)
  6. Remote – last worskpace is reserved for remote desktop sessions for the servers that I maintain. Usually they are rdp sessions, but I sometimes I have a VNC window there (for remote support stuff)

How about you? How do you organize your desktops?

Oh, a word about windows – I have yet to find a virtual desktop manager for that OS which would work the way these things work in Linux. The MS Powertoy is slow and buggy in my experience. I found the popular VirtuaWin to be ass backwards and counter intuitive when it comes to moving window across the desktops. The Sysinternals Tool is nice but so bare-bones that it doesn’t even have the functionality to move windows between desktops. Virtual Dimension was possibly the only tool that I knew off that would actually show you what is on which desktop (the way KDE pager does) but it did not integrate into the task bar, and it has not been updated in over 3 years. So meh… I’m not using workspaces on my Windows box. Then again I hardly do any coding on Windows anymore and for entertainment I usually either run Firefox or fullscreen video games so I don’t really need the virtual worskpace functionality for that.

Any suggestions for a working windows virtual desktop manager though?

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14 Responses to Virtual Workspaces

  1. astine UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Definitely on a first come first served basis. I tend to use tiled WMs like WMII or StumpWM, so that I effectively have an infinite supply of desktops and each program I have open gets a full one, or I group like windows together, depending on the need. Usually it’s the CLI and a browser, but not always. My sessions are always different (Coding, surfing, audio listening/editing, video viewing/editing, server management, website management, games, etc.) so using a rigid pattern would never make sense.

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  2. Chris UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I use Dexpot.

    It provides up to 20 virtual desktops, customizable hotkeys for switching desktops and moving windows, and a bunch of other features which I never use (e.g., desktop previewing, program switching, transparency).

    It’s quick and has never crashed on me.

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  3. dawn SWITZERLAND Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I have four tags:

    1. terminal, where I open terminal emulators (most of the programs I use are comand-line based)
    2. web (reserved for Firefox)
    3. files, where I browse the file system and edit text (school papers, config files, code, …)
    4. misc is used when I need an extra desktop

    I don’t know about virtual desktop managers for Windows, but I played with the Litestep graphical “shell” for a day — it includes this functionality.

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  4. Gunni FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I like your digresses. They both make you sound like you’re talking to a bunch of persons, and that you like talking to them. In turn that’s the reason for which I’ve got your blog on my rss feed and look forward to reading it every time it pops up.

    But, yeah, workspaces. I’ve got an Evilwm setup hacked to cycle through workspaces (so if you’re in nr. 8 and go to the next one you end up in nr. 1), and I find that usually I end up with:
    7. xpdf or xdvi if I’m writing in Latex in nr. 8
    8. Emacs
    1. Firefox
    2. Pidgin and various terminals
    Everything else is usually dealt with either Screen or very short lived terminal windows.

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  5. Mats Rauhala FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I think I mentioned this somewhere here before but here it goes again:
    1. Web related tasks like mutt, messaging, browser
    2. Strictly to coding and debugging related tasks (one fullscreen vim)
    3. Apis or something as useful. At the moment the datasheet for Elfa 07551187 LCD-screen.
    4. “The others”
    5. Buffer. Workspace where are all those applications that would otherwise make another workspace crowded.

    I’m a terminal-person, nearly everything I do is done from terminal. Be it coding, checking email or starting programs. I don’t think I even have a file-browser installed. I’m using Fluxbox which tiles windows so that they are directly adjacent of each other (two-dimensional array). I can fit 4 rxvt-unicodes within a workspace and after that, they go to buffer.

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  6. Ajzimm3rman UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Shareware program Deskspace (I do not use, but Hak.5 mentioned it) for Windows…

    I’m not big on the whole cube thing though; so the programs a bit of a “We can do Beryl I mean Compiz-Fusion too!”

    Workspaces are not necessary for me, but I had gotten used to them before I switched back to windows for audio work.

    Isohunt it. The mentionings above appear reasonable;
    Litestep in my opinion is lame.

    I find most other shells for Windows to be lame actually…
    Not only in their non-productiveness, but also their unsupported glitchy little eccentricities.

    -Good Day

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  7. STop DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    On Windows, I’ve tried VirtuaWin, but found it bloated. Then I used Virtual Dimension, but this app is barely maintained. Se the forum on SourceForge.
    At the moment, I have a dual-widescreen setup (at work, that is) which makes virtual desktops less relevant.

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  8. IceBrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux Terminalist says:

    Like Dawn above, I tend to have the terminals first, then IceWeasel (firefox), IceDove (Thunderbird), then vim for coding.
    I use Awesome which by default has 9 available tags, but I think I’ve never used more than 5 or 6.

    In Windows I used VirtuaWin, but it was kind of slow. Now I almost never boot it (specially since I started re-playing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory which runs better in Linux than Windows).

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  9. Marcus GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    1. KNotes
    2. Firefox
    3. Screen, when I script something and for porn
    4. Amarok or midnight commander ftp-sessions to my xbox running XBMC

    Terminals are used randomly all over the place when I need them.

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  10. Hector SPAIN Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I use 4 virtual desktops on two screens.
    1a – IDE
    1b – Firefox and/or terminal windows, for debugging
    2 – Misc. -> Files, documenting, archiving, teminal, virtual machines
    3- Web
    4a – Mail (Thunderbird)
    4b – Webmail

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  11. Ajzimm3rman UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Yeh, we windows people are lame…

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  12. Matt Doar UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    My main machine is running OS X 10.5 at the moment, so I have 6 workspaces, one always has Firefox, one has iTunes, the others vary. When needed, one of them will have a full screen Windows VM running in Fusion.

    On that Windows VM I run AltDesk with 6 windows. AltDeks is a Windows window manager I’ve used for about 5 years now. It’s really very good and well worth the $20 I paid for it then.

    Sometimes I’ll have a VNC session running too, usually to a Linux machine somewhere with it’s own window manager, probably 4 to 6 windows.

    That’s a lot of workspaces when I list them out, but their hierarchical arrangements means it all works fine. Keyboard shortcuts for changing from one to another are essential though!

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  13. ikaruga UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I pretty much use virtual desktops for multitasking… So, for example, say I’m reading a web article and then writing about it in a text editor. The text editor is in one desktop and the article is another. Switching between them is as easy as pressing WIN + 1, WIN + 2… (with no annoying pop up when you press TAB + SHIFT). (I use openbox, btw.) Otherwise, I don’t care where stuff is… Apps are located in the desktop I opened them.

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  14. periomaderia PORTUGAL Internet Explorer Windows says:

    In working briefly with KDE (prior to version 3) am I correct, the Folders, Shortcuts, etc. stay put when you shift Desktops, while the applications move? Perhaps I’ve become accustomed to the opposite arrangement, but I was disappointed when I saw what was happening.

    I have become used to the Desktop’s contents changing, while the running applications remain accessible (either Maximized, or Minimized) in the tabs at the bottom of the screen. At least, this is how StarOffice was designed to work, and it seems to function well.

    Yes, I do use the Multiple Virtual Desktops, with about a dozen set-up on the Desktop Menu, and half that number in frequent and regular use. They are accessible with a right-click on the Suite’s Desktop Icon. A left-click on the same Icon displays whichever Desktop has the check-mark next to it.

    Do the newer versions of KDE function more like StarOffice’s Desktops (I hope) in that one can change their contents completely, and not only switch running applications?

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