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June 2, 2004
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Linux for Windows Users #8

The Linux (Multiple) Virtual Desktops Unleashed

Part 2: Tutorial

Mike Angelo -- 3 June 2004 (C) -- Page 3


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Spreading applications across virtual desktops

An application will open in whatever virtual desktop is the focal desktop when it opens. You can make a virtual desktop the focal desktop by clicking on its icon on the Taskbar (Figure 3, on page 1) or the Desktop Pager (Figures 2, on page 1, and 7, on page 2).

Thus, in order to open the three consoles in virtual desktop 1, the Desktop 1 icon in the Taskbar shown in Figure 3 is clicked to make it the active desktop. Then, the three terminal panels (consoles) are opened while Desktop 1 is the focus (active) desktop.

Next, the icon on the Taskbar for virtual desktop 2 is clicked to make Desktop 2 the focal desktop. Then two instances of the Konqueror file-manager are opened in virtual desktop 2.

Of course, you do not have to open applications in any particular order. For example, if you look at Figure 2, you can see that the Gimp was opened in Desktop 4 before any other applications were opened. Later, after all 14 virtual desktops were configured the Gimp was moved to Desktop 8.

At the time the Figure 7 screenshot was taken, there were 27 windowpanes opened. But because they are spread over 14 virtual desktops, they all are on top. That is they are on top in their own virtual desktops. It's pretty darn slick!

If you have 27 windowpanes open in Microsoft Windows, you are going to have a cluttered mess!

My main, workhorse Linux- box currently is a 1-GHz Pentium 4 machine with 512-MB RAM and 526-MB Swap partition running Mandrake Linux 9.0. There currently are 14 virtual desktops configured with 27 applications opened across the 14 desktops. I often have more than 27 applications running on that machine. Even with that sort of application load, it's lightning fast.

On the other hand, the 300-MHz AMD K6 box with only 128-MB RAM used for this tour can handle only about three or four applications comfortably before it starts to bog down. It seems the bottleneck is more in available hard RAM rather than in CPU speed. The 15 applications and 27 applications opened in the 128-MB RAM box were opened to demonstrate today's exercises. Normally, only about a half-dozen of so applications would be opened on that box.

M.A.

Article Index

The limit to how many applications and windowpanes you can have opened when using virtual desktops is a function of system resources. The more hard-RAM and SWAP memory you have and the faster a CPU, the more virtual desktops and opened applications you can have.

In a sense, you may conceptualize each virtual desktop as a workstation or a play-station. Each workstation or play-station stays just the way it is when you move to another workstation or play-station. To move from one workstation or play-station to another, simply click on the appropriate icon in the Taskbar.

What's next

In Part III, Wrapping Up the Linux Virtual Desktops Tutorial, we will show you how to navigate among the virtual desktops and applications. We also will show you how to move an application or windowpane from one virtual desktop to another plus a few more tweaks and tricks. Stay tuned.

Test System

The Linxux-based computer used for this Linux Virtual Desktop tour is a desktop machine running Mandrake Linux 10.0, Community Edition. It has a 300-MHz AMD K6 CPU on an Amptron motherboard with 128-MB RAM and a 40-GB Maxtor Ultra DMA 66 hard drive. This box is connected to the LAN via an integrated SiS 900 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter. Article author, Mike Angelo, built the machine.


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Books


The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, Martin Fink, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-047677-3. $27


Linux For Dummies, 4th Ed., LeBlanc, Hoag, and Blomquist, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-1660-4. $30

Linux in a Nuthsell, 4th Ed., Siever, Figgins, and Weber, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00482-6. $40

Linux Kernel Development, Robert Love, Sams, ISBN: 0672325128. $45

The Linux Process Manager: The internals of scheduling, interrupts and signals, By John O'Gorman, Wiley, ISBN: 0-470-84771-9. $35

Linux Toys, Christopher Negus and Chuck Wolber, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-2508-5. $30


Running Linux, 4th Ed., Welsh, Dalheimer, Dawson, and Kaufman, O'Reilly, ISBN, 0-596-00272-6. $45

Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition, Daniel P. Bovet and Marco Cesati, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00213-0. $50


Article Index

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