Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Minor issue with Ubuntu Desktop

Linux and Ubuntu are awesome. I switched from developing on Windows XP to Ubuntu Desktop in late 2007 (7.04 or Feisty Fawn). I will never again develop on an windows machine. Hopefully I won't ever work for a company that requires a windows platform, but at that point I would rather buy my own work computer or setup Ubuntu in a virtual instance. I really appreciate Rob Madole and Brian O'Neill for showing my the right path. I remember Brian's frustration anytime he was forced to pair with me on my windows machine. Now I am like that with my co-workers.

Even though Ubuntu is great, I still have one minor compliant. Well it's really 3 things combined: Extended Monitor support, Compiz, and Gnome-Do. I am addicted to all 3, but trying to get all 3 to work together seems impossible.

Extended Monitor Support
The big problem here is going back and forth between work and home. At work I want to use my monitor, but at home I use just the laptop monitor. In the past I ran nvidia-settings when I wanted go back and forth. This has been improved with some help from Ron Alleva by using the xrandr command. He gave me some alias's to run when I wanted to switch. When I first installed 8.10, I used those alias's, but it seems lately its being auto-detected because when I plug my monitor in at work, ubuntu recognizes it and I don't have to run anything. Nor do I have to run anything now when I get home. So it would seem I have a good handle on this now, but when using an extended monitor other things don't work.

I love compiz mainly for one thing: transparency in my terminal. I'm sure I have set a million other settings before, but enabling the Normal Visual Effects under the System > Preferences > Appearance setting is usually one of the first things I do. I believe this setting uses Compiz. With this setting enabled, my terminal window is transparent enough that I can see other applications in the background, like firefox or pidgin which I typically have behind terminal without having to switch back and forth. Unfortunately, it seems I can't have this setting enabled when I have an extended monitor.

Man I love it. I am hoping to eventually get to a point to where I have an entirely clean desktop like this. My favourite is the docky option seen here which is similar to Mac's Spotlight. Gnome-Do works just fine with an extended monitor, but docky requires compiz to be running in Normal mode and if you recall compiz doesn't work for me when using an extra monitor.

This is probably a pretty minor compliant verses all the ones I had against Windows, so I don't expect any new patches coming out of Canonical. In an ideal world, my extra monitor would just be automatically detected, compiz would work, and therefore gnome-do docky would work.

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