Some reactions to a dual monitor X setup

September 25, 2006

I've recently gotten an Xinerama-based dual monitor setup working on my new office workstation, and the experience has left me with a bunch of reactions.

  • it was pleasingly easy to get going in Fedora Core 5, and by that I mean that X automatically comes up with both monitors active if they're both connected.
  • the default clone mode (both monitors displaying the same thing) is surprisingly disorienting.
  • starting up dual monitors with an unmodified X setup is an interesting way to see which windows you've positioned absolutely and which you positioned relative to the right edge, as your normal layout suddenly sprays itself across both monitors. (Mine was surprisingly random.)

  • X could really use a geometry specification extension that is Xinerama-aware. (Of course, all the modern kids are probably not using the -geometry switch or equivalent; I have no idea if modern Gnome or KDE apps even support it any more.)

  • similarly, it would be nice if Xinerama had a generic 'clone this window on all displays' feature, because there are some things that I really want on both displays, and there is no guarantee that I can start two copies of a given application without big explosions. (Wanting the windows to be able to respond normally to events makes this hard to do with an outside program, and I suppose would complicate the job even inside the X server, since it brings up issues like 'what mouse position should be reported to the program?'.)

  • I need a command line utility to report the current mouse position, so various of my widgets can at least pop up their windows on the right monitor.
  • X needs more little utilities that you can use as the building blocks in shell script based applications and widgets.
  • the pager display now features a lot of skinny windows, since its display's width to height ratios are really out of whack now. (There's nothing much I can do about this unless I'm willing to give it more horizontal room, and I'm not.)

  • the question of what I'll do with all this desktop space has a way of answering itself in short order.

Overall, it's certainly been interesting. (It also got me to upgrade from a vintage 2001 version of fvwm to something more modern, which likely has its own advantages once I bother to look up the new features. (My old version of fvwm had some bugs with Xinerama support.))

Written on 25 September 2006.
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Last modified: Mon Sep 25 19:06:22 2006
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