Monday, 18 November 2013

Multiple Monitors on Linux are quite complicated

As developers we're using a third display for all our important stuff - or at least my colleagues who are using windows... :(

I tried several times to get my third display up and running on a Ubuntu 12.04 using an Nvidia Quadro NVS 450 graphics card with 4 display ports - and it looks like there's the problem.

The nvidia graphics card consists of two GPUs with each 2 display ports which can be joined with some tricks.

First Try:

First i fired up nvidia-settings and configure my third display to be a seperate X server. Nvidia supports the mode "TwinView" as you suggest for only two monitors. TwinView provides a layer above the first two displays to behave like a single one to my window manager Gnome.

After storing these changes to my Xorg.conf and rebooting the machine i ended up with a gray background on the third display - which looks like a bug in nautilus. Furthermore i can't move the application windows to the seperate X screen by drag and drop.

But even worse:  After disabling the third screen i ended up with additional menus on the top and bottom of my main screen every time I login.

Which looks like this:

The only solution for me was to delete all my gnome config settings in .gnome2 and .config/gnome-* and set all my configurations (shortcurts, etc..) again.

Second Try:

Another possibility for this setup is to use "Xinerama" on top of TwinView and the seperate X-Server. Xinerama is a layer on top of this configuration with groups all displays to one big as TwinView would do... but actually it behaves different

If i click on fullscreen on a single application, my window is stretched across all displays like this:

Nevertheless the performance of Xinerama on high display resolutions is quite bad. You can see flickering by scrolling in your browser. For me that's a no-go

Third Try:

My for-now last try was to use different window managers like XFCE and awesome (which is my favorite). In XFCE i've experienced quite the same issues like in gnome and awesome behaves totally different as my current workflow is.

awesome has several workspaces per screen, on my current setup the workspace is shared across all screens which has several advantages like split them into duties (coding, communication (skype, mail...)).


I gave up for now and currently working on two screens, accepting the fun comments from my windows-using colleagues. If you have a solution for this, i would really appreciate if you could share it with me. It totally drives me crazy ;)

PS: Switching to windows is not an option

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