Virtual Desktops

I’ve tried many times to switch to Linux for my primary desktop operating system. I’ve tried Red Hat, Fedora, Mandrake, White Box, CentOS, Ubuntu, Edubuntu, you name it. I always get stuck in the same places. There’s a device driver I can’t get. Or there’s a software application I have to run that won’t work. Or the user interface is just a little to clunky. Inevitably, I always end up reverting back to Windows.

Virtual Desktop ScreenshotOne thing that I really like about the graphical user interface in a Linux installation is the concept of virtual workspaces. Essentially, I can have four different screens, each with its own applications open, and move easily between them. So maybe my web browser is on one, and I have a couple terminal windows open in another, and email is in a third. This is really convenient, because I can just switch workspaces when I want to move to those other programs.

Yesterday, Alvin showed us a program called Virtual Desktop Manager. This program provides exactly this functionality in Windows. It’s designed for Windows Vista, but I’m using it successfully with Windows XP, too. I have it configured to give me three desktops. Each of these has its own icon in the system tray. If I want to switch to another one, I just click on its icon. I can also easily move application windows to different desktops. A nice collection of keyboard shortcuts also help keep the TSPY in line.

I haven’t used it enough to know what kind of performance hit it’s going to take on my computer. And I don’t know how stable it is yet, either. But so far it has worked flawlessly. It looks like I now have another reason to not switch to Linux as a desktop OS.

4 thoughts on “Virtual Desktops

  1. I installed it on my XP tablet today. I get a .NET error when I try to use it. I haven’t checked the forums yet, but there is probably a fix out there. I’ll find it.

  2. I’ve seen the .NET error, but I’m not sure what I did to cause it, and it’s not happening all the time. Today, I’m having some odd problems with application windows getting lost. I know my email is running somewhere, but I can’t find it. Alt-tab, curiously, works within a single desktop.

    I’m also a little annoyed that I can’t move a single application window to another virtual desktop. I can move all of them, but not just one. Obviously, they’re still working out many of the finer points, and I’d guess that XP is not their first priority.

    It’s still neat software, though.

  3. I hope one of you guys posts more about this when the XP issues are solved. This is something I could really use on my coding box. I think John’s thoughts about the Linux desktop were spot on, and the only thing I really missed when going back to Windows were the multiple desktops. Great feature.

  4. I’ve been using VirtueDesktops under OS X, and couldn’t imagine going back to not having them. It’s very nice, especially since I setup the hot keys to easily switch between them. It’s so nice, in fact, that I don’t miss my dual monitor setup anymore.

    (*BTW, I just use VMWare or Parallels when I need to run the odd Windows application… 🙂 *)

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