Using a Computer With One Monitor, But Multiple Screens.




About: Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.
Having worked as a technician at a college doing computer support, I could tell some war stories. One of the things that really concerned was how resources were used. As a taxpayer, it really concerned me. For example I would have to set up four monitors on one computer. The cost of the monitors and the additional equipment required in the computer for the monitors to work at that time was over a thousand dollars. Now multiply that by at least twenty or more users times several campuses and you are talking quite a bit of money. I want to show you how to have just one monitor, but have the advantage of several screens to eliminate the extra expense, There are times when additional monitors are needed, but that is an exception. Ironically at least one of the monitors usually was just displaying the game of solitaire.

Note: you will want to have a recent machine with a good video card and plenty of memory. . The screen does not artifact like the picture. Just a quirk of the screen shot module.

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Step 1: Normal Screen

if you look down in the right hand corner of you screen you will usually see the workspace switcher and the trash. On my system I have moved it to the top panel. If you right click on the on an empty space on the panel you can add and remove. If you right click on the workplace switcher it self, you can change the settings like I have from two workspaces to four.

In the first screen is a typical desktop. with the mouse pointing to the switcher. It is empty because we do not have any windows open. In the second screen we have moved to the second workspace (just by clicking on it. ). Firefox was loaded and you can see a small image in the switcher to indicate that. In the third screen, we have moved back to the first workspace where no applications are open.  But Firefox is still open. You can tell that because the Firefox image is still shown in the workplace switcher.

So you can tool around the workspaces pretty easily. But I want more.

Step 2: The Next Realm.

There is a free add-on for Linux called Compiz. It has gone through a lot of changes. What Compiz does is allow you to look at your workspaces in 3D. like in the first frame of this instructable.

How do I get it? It may actually be installed except for the configuration menu. So you need to go to System > Administration > Synaptic Packet Manager. You may need to enter your sudo password.

You will want to search for Compiz. If Compiz is not already checked do so now. Then you will want to go down the list and add the Settings manager. Once you have done that say apply.

Once that is all loaded, and the package manger exited, you will need to log out and log back in for the new settings to  be in affect.

Step 3: Fun Time.

Once you have logged back in, hold down alt and control keys. the take the mouse and grab either the left or the right hand of the screen and it should move with you, If you can not do it the first time, try it again.  Is that not awesome?  You can look at more than one screen at once without have to purchase a second monitor, Let go of the keys now. If you go to the workplace switcher, and press on another workspace, you should see the screen flip around, Amaze your friends with this neat little trick. 

What is really neat is to have an application hanging between two workplaces like I have done. All you have to do is just drag the application to the edge of the screen. In fact you can move windows from workspace to workspace and the screen will flip automatically. There is a whole lot more to it, but I just wanted to get your feet wet.

Been using Compiz for years, but needed to have a more recent computer have this feature. Other people are bound to want to do this so, I made this very basic instructable.
Have fun.....

Step 4: One Last Neat Trick.

How about a side by side view? You got it. If you press the Linux key (formerly known as the mswindows key) and the letter "E", you will get the panel view. You can either use the mouse to double click to use the view you want to use or just press the super key and "E"  again to return to the normal desktop view.

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    19 Discussions

    Dick Holman

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Most Linuxes have supported multiple workspaces from the start. I think it's a feature of the UNIX system as well, but I'm not sure, or it's because Mr. Thorvalds or the nice people at GNU Foundation wanted to have a more flexible system.

    It makes many tasks so much easier, just a keyboard shortcut from screen to screen, & the Compiz Cube in particular makes all my Window$-victim friends jealous when they see it! :)

    1 reply

    Most system have windows and I like to say mswindows instead of just windows when talking about Microsoft products. I'm sure that Mr. Torvalds would get a kick out of your spelling of his last name.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

    For what it is worth. Actually compiz is already installed you just have to install the manager to activate it. Not knowing what version of ubuntu you have this may work.

    This install was on ubuntu. when you go to the package manager, just click on anything about compiz and (or emerald) then install it. Just that simple. The only issue might be an incompatibility with the video card you have.

    Ubuntu has had it for several versions. been around a while now. should be in the repos unless it is an older version that is no longer supported. I am running 10.04.

    They now have multiple port video cards which makes it easier. I have done the multiple monitor thing with XP also using generic cards, but you have to have a machine with lots of slots. Those systems are becoming rarer. I do agree about users with ego trips in having to have multiple monitors.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Four monitors on one PC a while back did cost a lot because of the special video cards and graphics drivers to do it. It was usually reserved for high end graphics or those workstations needing multiple windows open on the desktop. That functionality is now built into most operating systems, at least double monitor support if your hardware supports it. I recently tried Ubuntu and the KDE or is that GNU interface has native workspace switching. Most "power users" that have dual monitors or more, one with solitaire open, think that they are "important" and want to show it.