The future of virtual desktops

Marco Martin notmart at
Fri Feb 25 14:32:24 CET 2011

On Friday 25 February 2011, Hans Chen wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 07:18, Martin Gräßlin <mgraesslin at> wrote:
> > > What I want to know is the following: Are there any plans or outlines
> > > regarding how to proceed with virtual desktop (and activities)? Are
> > > they documented somewhere?
> > 
> > There are no plans to change anything about virtual desktops. As Aaron
> > wrote they are orthogonal to activities. So the introduction of
> > activities does not change anything about vds.
> I don't completely agree and I think this is partly what leads to the
> confusion - here you have two different concepts that seem to do pretty
> much the same thing (from a user's point of view). Why?
> In my opinion there are a few things that currently make it harder to grasp
> activities:
>    - I see virtual desktops (VDs) as subordinate to activities, i.e., each
>    activity should have its own set of virtual desktops. Currently VDs are
> not activity aware.

the problem is:
how we really communicate that virul desktop are just a spatial arrangement, 
and nothing else?
now, the open question is, could there be a little tweak, for instance in the 
pager ui that better exprimes this?

>    - There is an option to kind of merge activities and virtual desktops
>    ("Different widgets for each desktop"). I know that it was added due to
>    popular demand, but now that activities also manage windows I don't
> think it is needed anymore. (Some users are not going to like this, I
> know.)

yes, is the single feature i regret the most, but i really think if it will be 
removed, bad bad things will happen.
i rally really hate that feature and if a plasma2 will come, that would be a 
wonderful excuse to make it vanish.

> Other than such bugs/wishlists that would improve the users' understanding
> of activities, we should think about how VDs can be improved (like Nuno's
> idea). Previously some people used them as context switchers, but now that
> we have activities I see virtual desktops as mainly a way to organize
> windows. How to better reflect this? I like the direction GNOME Shell seems
> to be going - virtual desktops are automatically added or removed depending

well, gnome shell just calls virtual desktop "activities" and this confuses 
things even more ;)

i don't necessarily like the implications of not having virtual desktops as 
they are now anymore, (also from a tecnical, window manager spec side of 
the concept of a  big linear desktop bigger than the screen is nice for sure, 
has many issues tough.
like requiring huge wallpapers and won't really work with maximized windows
(as a side note, will be fun to see how big will be the user uprising for the 
decision of gnome shell to kill maximize and minimize buttons)

Marco Martin

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