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Displays X Linux

Multiple-Display Power Tools For Linux? 410

shift writes "I've used multiple monitors for years (currently 3) and find that Linux is lacking in power tools for such setups. Even Windows 7 has added the feature to move a window from screen to screen with keyboard shortcuts. Are any of the major desktop environments adding such features? I'm still stuck on FVWM and have defined functions to swap the contents of screens as well as move windows from screen to screen and so on. But this just seems like such basic functionality people would want in multi-screen setups that I'm surprised I don't find any of these features in our latest desktop environments."
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Multiple-Display Power Tools For Linux?

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  • The biggest problem I have with multiple displays is when full screen games don't support it and end up half way off one of the screens.
    But that's getting better.

    At least I don't have to deal with 3d and video only working on one of the screens. I just use nvidia twinview.

  • Separate Workspaces? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomcircuit ( 938963 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:03PM (#30340376) Homepage

    Why not just make each monitor it's own workspace?

  • Compiz can do it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by rqg ( 1413223 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:05PM (#30340388)
    Use compiz and set your shortcuts in Window Management / Put. Just checked moving windows to different outputs (I use 2 displays) and it works.
    • The man is using FVWM, something tells me going from FVWM to compiz is not what he's looking for exactly...

      • Read again. He's using FVWM and it has the feature. He's asking about it for other WMs.

  • Another Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:06PM (#30340396)

    While we're on the subject, I'm curious to know how well Linux supports three monitor setups. I'm thinking of setting up three monitors on two graphics cards with KDE4. Does anyone have experience with this setup? How well does Compiz work for you? (I've heard anecdotal stories that Compiz can't cross video cards.) Is this something that SaX (or another GUI tool) setup, or will I be hand-editing configuration files?

    • KDE works fine with 3 monitors (both with 2 and 3 video cards). You'll probably end up with special effects only on one monitor, especially if the display sizes vary.
    • Re:Another Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:42PM (#30340610) Homepage
      At my office, most of the developers have at least two monitors (1600x1200 Dell 2007FP or something like that). They're rotated 90 degrees (more vertical space for coding) and configured as a dual-monitor setup. A few developers have expanded things to 3 or 4 monitors. The machines in question sometimes have trouble booting up with two video cards (they're somewhat cheap old motherboards), but the drivers and desktop setup (Nvidia binary blobs under Ubuntu) were always pretty easy to get running and Just Worked with the nvidia config tool.
    • Re:Another Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:52PM (#30340660)

      I've heard anecdotal stories that Compiz can't cross video cards.

      Compiz doesn't really have the problem here. It's the driver's problem. Specifically, on certain Intel video chips, there's a limit to the size of the framebuffer you can have with DRI, which Compiz requires. 2048x2048 was the limit, which is pretty hard to fit two-three monitors into with reasonable resolution, especially with the Widescreen Monitor Proliferation we've seen in the past decade. IIRC, this has been fixed with later drivers ("shatter" fb, which does exactly what it sounds like it does, was the solution I remember hearing about), but it plagued many for a very long time.

    • Compiz? On KDE4? KDE4 has it's own compositing window manager, it does not use Compiz.
  • Configure desktop > Keyboard and Mouse > Keyboard shortcuts > kwin

    Select the action you want to do (move, maximize, move 1 desktop to left/right, move to desktop #, etc), and the keyboard combination you want to assign to it.

    • ...My favorite is pack left/right/up/down. Does Windows 7 have anything like that?

      No, it's not an instant "go to the other screen" button, but it's a bit more generic, and it's never more than two or three taps of it to get to the other screen.

  • by datajack ( 17285 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:08PM (#30340412)
    I've been using multiple screens for years, though mostly under Ubuntu on nVidia cards. I can simply drag windows from one screen to another - not exactly difficult. Maximised windows will even resize themselves as my tow monitors do not have the same resolution.

    Given that, if you really waanted keyboard control...

    alt-space, down arrow, down arrow (to un-maximise), return

    alt-space, down arrow, down arrow, down arrow (move)

    use arrow keys to move window to wherever on your desktop you want it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      alt-space,x(to un-maximise), return then


      use arrow keys to move window to wherever on your desktop you want it.


  • by Elshar ( 232380 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rahsle>> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:10PM (#30340422) Journal

    Is this just a problem with FVWM? I know I've been doing it for years in both FreeBSD and Linux. I've done it with FreeBSD running Windowmaker as early as 2002-2003, iirc. And I've done it on Linux with KDE and Gnome.

    I've done it with Matrox, ATI, and Nvidia cards. I guess I'm not really sure what the submitter is talking about, because it works for me just as he's asking for without any special hardware.

    In fact, in linux running Ubuntu, this was the default configuration as I recall, and I've actually got this working on the Ubuntu 9.10 right here.

  • Multiple desktops (Score:5, Informative)

    by sexybomber ( 740588 ) <boccilino@gmaiDALIl.com minus painter> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:13PM (#30340444)
    This might be overly simplifying the matter, but Ubuntu (GNOME environment) has got multiple workspaces built in, and CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-right_arrow will throw the current window to the next workspace. Couldn't you just assign each workspace to a different monitor and be done with it?
    • by Deanalator ( 806515 ) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:25PM (#30340512) Homepage

      Would be nice wouldn't it? Unfortunately the only way I have seen multiple monitor setups working is each workspace just gets much bigger, and shares all the monitors. For example, I start playing a movie in workspace 3, then drag the movie to the top of my workspace to where my tv is, then full screen. Then, when I flip to workspace 2 to check my email, my movie gets flipped away from also, until I move back to workspace 3 again. Not the way I would have expected it to work, but I have just been getting used to it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hedwards ( 940851 )
      You can do that, the catch is that by running the second X Server you can't actually move your windows between monitors. The bright side though is that you can switch the left or the right monitor to a different virtual screen. If anybody has any ideas, I'm somewhat surprised that there isn't an equivalent that lets you switch only one monitor portion of the screen.
  • by Roguelazer ( 606927 ) <Roguelazer@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:14PM (#30340450) Homepage Journal
    When using Xinerama (which you really ought to be if you want control over your multi-screen setup), many tiling window managers can do all sorts of neat things. I personally use Awesome [naquadah.org], although I'm told that xmonad [xmonad.org] is also good at this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:15PM (#30340462)

    Xmonad seperates the concept of virtual desktops from the displays on which they are put.
    so not only can you move a window from one monitor alt-shift-[wer] for moving from monitors 1 2 3 respectivly.
    you can put any of the (default 9) virtual desktops on any monitor with alt-[1-9]. The window manager is about as hard to learn to use as VI though it is really really well worth it. expecially when you use it from within gnome so you dont have to loose all the task bar goodness.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I second xmonad. Don't know about running it within gnome as the parent says though, for me that would defeat the whole point. :)
      Xmonad has a small learning curve if you're used to doing everything with the mouse but you can set any keybindings you like, it takes nearly no system resources to run, and handles multiple monitors extremely well.
  • Was I the only one that was thinking of Circular Saws, Electric drills with built in LCD displays?
  • by InfiniteLoopCounter ( 1355173 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:16PM (#30340470)

    To move a window to another monitor (not workspace) in GNOME, press alt+F7, hold shift and the direction you want to move.

  • Tiling (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:22PM (#30340504)

    Linux has many fine tiling window managers available, such as Xmonad, AwesomeWM, and StumpWM. These pieces of software deal very well with multi-monitor setups. They have support and expressive keybindings built in. They also automatically manage window size and placement, which is a great boon, especially if you have a lot of screen real estate: no more dragging windows around to see everything!

    Truly, tiling window managers are screen-management power tools. I personally use Xmonad on four screens with named dynamic workspaces, which allows me to nicely label each set of windows and layout according to the content of the windows involved.

    • Re:Tiling (Score:5, Informative)

      by plasticsquirrel ( 637166 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:23AM (#30341868)
      There are a few good tiling window managers that make this a breeze. To some degree it depends on which language you prefer. The following screen shots are from stumpwm [wikipedia.org], a window manager written entirely in Common Lisp. It has the added benefit of being programmable while it is running, so you can interact with, and test, any new additions or modifications in real time. Anything you want to do like sending windows one place or another, or binding different features to different keys, can be done very easily in a window manager like this. It's very capable out of the box, and it is meant to be extendible arbitrarily due to the powerful programming language it uses.

      stumpwm tiling across five monitors at different resolutions [nongnu.org]

      There is also a window manager that has some similar features called xmonad [wikipedia.org], but it is written in Haskell, so it has a bit of a syntactic learning curve if that matters to you.

      xmonad tiling across three monitors [wikipedia.org]

      On a side note, it's interesting that the proliferation of Lisp, Haskell, and other powerful functional programming languages has created a demand for a different kind of window manager that is written in, and can be extended with, the language. It's almost as if programmers began to see the limitations of static, C/C++ programmed environments after they started using these languages, and then started to build up new environments more suitable for high-level programming. Is this the beginning of the end for the traditional Unix way of always running back to the C languages?
  • dwm (Score:5, Informative)

    by zero-point-infinity ( 918349 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:27PM (#30340532)
    dwm [suckless.org] had its multihead support improved back in July. Since pretty much all of dwm's window management is by keyboard, of course it has keyboard shortcuts for moving windows between monitors. So yeah, this feature exists in even one of the most minimalist window managers out there.
  • You're looking for another tool to add functionality to your window manager, when in reality that's your problem. Either patch the window manager to add this or switch to a remotely modern (or featured, or whatever) window manager.

    I've used KDE for years and it has very advanced keybinds to move windows pretty much anywhere. I can resize and move windows with just my keyboard. It has had this functionality much longer than windows ever had. Your only problem is the window manager. Linux isn't lacking in t
    • by lahvak ( 69490 )

      Please read his post again. He clearly states that his current window manager (FVWM) handles this fine, and he is wondering if more modern, more common window managers handle it too. Since I too am a FVWM user (quite satisfied, in fact the reason I always return to FVWM is that other window managers simply do not have the functionality and flexibility FVWM does), I can confirm that it is possible to do this in FVWM. I cannot provide any information about other WM, as I never used any of them with multipl

  • by Eldred ( 693612 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:45PM (#30340624)
    FVWM is a windows manager that has been around with few major functional changes for several decades. It's a solid windows manager that is very good at what it does; managing your workspaces and placing the right windows in the right place, directing input to the correct application, etc. In addition it is highly streamlined, with not a lot of excess bells and windows, which makes it highly valuable in a low and limited resource environments. Gnome and KDE are much fatter tool sets providing many of the bells and whistles you seem to crave. In addition FVWM can be used in conjunction with individual tools from these tools sets. Try out Gnome or KDE, either instaed of or along side FVWM and see what you get.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:54PM (#30340670)

      FVWM is a windows manager that has been around with few major functional changes for several decades.

      It true! My grandfather used this back in the 30s and 40s! He stopped when he was drafted into WWII, but that's a whole different story....

  • enlightenment 17 (Score:2, Interesting)

    e17 handles it rather brilliantly.

    Each screen gets its own set of virtual desktops, and you can drag windows from one screen to another, or set up keyboard shortcuts to do it.

    I set up 2 screens side by side, each with a set of virtual desktops that I can switch between by moving the mouse to the right and left edges. If I move the mouse to the bottom edge of the right screen it shows up at the top of the left screen. It takes only a few minutes to get used to.

    Of course, you could give up the virtual desktop

  • by udippel ( 562132 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:05PM (#30340710)

    Let's not pretend there was no problem with multiple monitors at times.
    To me, Linux has been ready for the desktop for 10 years, and I've been using it almost exclusively. So, that's said.
    Though, using dual monitor out of the box has failed me at the first instance a good number of times. And that's far away from perfect. Because I know how to handle Xorg.0.log and xorg.conf; and I know where to post for help; but Aunty Tilly doesn't.

    Example 1: 1600x1200 next to 1024x768, Gnome, year:2009. Failed. Took me a few hours until I found a filed bug, that Xorg would not accept a higher resolution of the virtual desktop than 2048x2048. Placing 1600x1200 above 1024x768 finally worked; based on Gnome's GUI. Still not good.

    Example 2: Playing with KDE (4.3.2-4), that same thing doesn't. The desktop configuration applet (Computer Administration->Display) simply doesn't allow to un-mirror the two screens; contrary to the 'Display' applet in Gnome. Another need to resort to Google, and a forum. Solution: I need to issue a number of xrandr commands to split the two displays to show separate content. Not good.

    Example 3: Having another box with Nvidia-card with TV out. The same KDE (4.3.2-4) applet simply is not aware of the TV output. It shows one standard display, the LCD monitor. Over. Of course, the Nvidia-applet works fine, doing anything with the TV of my liking. But it would require the user to know that she uses a Nvidia card, and that there is another applet that she needs to use. Not good.

    The problem, AFAIK, is not that on Linux one couldn't; but one can't, once too often, not simply out of the box.

    • by proxima ( 165692 )

      Example 1: 1600x1200 next to 1024x768, Gnome, year:2009. Failed. Took me a few hours until I found a filed bug, that Xorg would not accept a higher resolution of the virtual desktop than 2048x2048. Placing 1600x1200 above 1024x768 finally worked; based on Gnome's GUI. Still not good.

      If I had to guess, you have a somewhat old Intel chipset (945?). They have hardware limitations which prevent the total virtual screen from being > 2048x2048. It's not so much a bug as an inherent limitation. My old laptop

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bent Mind ( 853241 )

      Of course, the Nvidia-applet works fine, doing anything with the TV of my liking. But it would require the user to know that she uses a Nvidia card, and that there is another applet that she needs to use. Not good.

      How is this different from Windows? If I want to do something special with graphics output under XP, I use the Intel applet that sits in the system tray. ATI and nVidia also have their own special applets under Windows.

  • by bigogre ( 315585 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:32PM (#30340838)

    I've been using FVWM with multiple monitors for years. xrandr has simplified things considerably. I can drag from one monitor to another with no problem. Below is my current xorg.conf (note that I am running on Fedora 10). You can use a Radeon card by changing the driver to 'radeon'. Use 'lspci' to get the appropriate BusID for your card(s). There may be simpler solutions but this has worked well for me.

    And for those saying to use a different window manager please note that FVWM has not stood still but is still true to the name it had when I began using it 15 years ago: the Frugal Virtual Window manager. It is frugal with regards to RAM and CPU use. I also like it because I can edit a file (gasp) to modify the configuration. For old farts like me that's a plus. YMMV.

    Section "InputDevice"
    # keyboard added by rhpxl
                    Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
                    Driver "kbd"
                    Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
                    Option "XkbLayout" "us"

    Section "Monitor"
                    Identifier "DVI0"
                    Option "Enable" "true"
                    Option "DPMS"

    Section "Monitor"
                    Identifier "DVI1"
                    Option "LeftOf" "DVI0"
                    Option "Enable" "true"
                    Option "DPMS"

    Section "Device"
                    Identifier "nVidia Corporation GeForce 8600 GT"
                    Driver "nv"
                    BusID "PCI:1:00:0"
                    #Option "Monitor-DVI0" "DVI1"

    Section "Screen"
                    Identifier "Default Screen"
                    Device "nVidia Corporation GeForce 8600 GT"
                    DefaultDepth 24
                    SubSection "Display"
                                    Depth 24
                                    Virtual 3840 1200

    Section "ServerLayout"
                    Identifier "Default Layout"
                    Screen "Default Screen"
                    InputDevice "Generic Keyboard"

  • here's my toolchain (Score:3, Informative)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:36PM (#30340852)
    xfce, xev, devilspie, xbindkeys, xmodmap, xrandr, vim, man. you can do every crazy thing that comes to mind with this, except window wobbling. i haven't had the need for that, hence no tool for it. reading the man pages won't take more than two hours. you can even use emacs or nano instead of vim with the same great result.
  • by Sxooter ( 29722 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:16AM (#30341028)

    Last place I worked we had two monitors for every developer, and we had about 40 developers. Place I work now has 4 developers, and 3 have 2 monitors and 1 has 3 monitors. The one thing we found in both places is that older Nvidia cards work best. 7800 series, stuff like that. Get the latest cards and you'll pull your hair out trying to get them to work.

  • I must not be understanding the problem correctly. So help me out please. Is your set up a) 1 desktop stretched over 3 monitors? Yes? b) You want to move be able to movie, say Firefox, or a xterm, etc. from say monitor 1 to monitor 3 using keyboard shortcuts? c) You think a Linux desktop environment can't handle this currently?

    If this is the correct setup you have, then you must not be a KDE user. This is trivial with KDE.

    1. alt-tab until the app you want to move has focused.
    2. Hit the Alt+Fkey to maximi
  • Usually development follows demand. Since the numbers of people wanting to use multiple monitors with the options is quite small it is no shock that little work is done in that area. If it were for a commercial OS such as Windows think of how much each buyer might be asked to pay for such a program.

  • I have a sager np5950v laptop with two nvidia quadro FX 2500 cards. The laptop display is attached to the second card rather than the first one. Suse's video configuration always tries to put video by default on the first card. I had to screw with bus ID's and xorg.conf in suse 10.0 and 11.1. It never detects it correctly. I also find that every time I do a video driver update I have to copy the old xorg.conf over the one autogenerated by the configuration tools since they don't get it right. I've cont
  • by VanessaE ( 970834 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @03:07AM (#30341644) Homepage

    If there's one thing I've wanted for as long as I've used Linux, it's multiple monitor support on the regular, plain text console. I use a dual-head nVidia card, which works fine under X, but console mode has always been a let-down. One monitor always displays a normal console, while the other usually ends up displaying whatever I saw perhaps 10 minutes prior (as if it is showing part of the other monitor's scrollback buffer).

    So, each can clearly show unique content in text mode, but does any tool exist that can bring some order to it?

  • by j_sp_r ( 656354 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:30AM (#30342044) Homepage

    Settings -> Keyboard and Mouse -> Global shortcuts -> Kwin

    Window to screen \d

    Kwin has a lot of shortcuts you can define.

    I don't know what the post is all about, but it is defiantly not true.

  • It Works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:57AM (#30342328) Homepage Journal

    I'm using a pair of triple- and quad-head PCs as we speak. Linux on both: CentOS 5.3 on one, Ubuntu 9.10 on the other. One ran OpenSuSE 10.2 previously. Two cheap dual-head nVidia cards, their binary drivers. Started with the xorg.conf generated from the nVidia tool. Spent several hours the first time trying to get it going years back, but nowadays just spend about 15 minutes setting it up upon install. Works as one large screen in each case. As such, I just drag things around on the (big) desktop to change displays. The doco supplied with the nVidia drivers is reasonably good and all I really used. Runs 3D stuff fine on each. One is KDE, the other GNOME. Both environments seem to have an awareness of the physical displays as well- if I hit maximise, it'll fill the current monitor. I'm not sure that the Linux ecosystem is really lacking such things.

    I'm not 100% sure which features are apparently lacking? Is it just keyboard shortcuts to move a window from one physical screen to another? That'd certainly be useful, though I can already do this with a mouse. I know that the keyboard shortcut list is lacking in GNOME, and more options in KDE couldn't hurt either. Perhaps that's what it's about.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost