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Multiple monitors, or Virtual Desktops, or KDE Activities, or something else?

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When I work on something I found myself with too many windows and programs open at the same time, many webpages, manuals, IDEs, spreadsheets, schematics and so on.  A single monitor can became crowdy and messy very fast.

At first I've start adding more monitors, but it seems that adding monitors is not that useful, and they only increase the mess, now adding uncomfortable sitting positions.  Moving the mouse and the attention between many monitors comes at a cost, it is not flawless, at least for me it isn't.

Then I've upgraded to a high resolution and big size monitor 4k/32'' only to discover that pixels are too small without a ~1.5x zoom, so not as much gain as I hoped in terms of working area.

Then some years ago I've moved to Linux, where virtual desktops are the norm, IMO a better approach than multiple monitors on the desk, then I've settled to KDE Plasma and found out about "Activities" (like Virtual Desktops but with more settings and options) which I never really used.

Often I need to switch from one project to another, and I would like to save a snapshot of the entire desktop, then to restore it later.

Ideally I would like to have something like a suspend to RAM or hibernate, but without powering down the PC, so to save and restore a given state of the entire desktop, with all the open web pages, and all the open files and programs, and all the windows and cursors positions just like they were when I left.

What do you use for that, or what would work best?
Many monitors, or Virtual Desktops, or KDE Activities, maybe something else?

Had the very same problem myself...

By the 2000 I have used extensively a 2 (for some time even 3) heads (monitors)
in a multi monitor setup..  under XOrg.. ( by the time there were no GPUs..)
so the XSession manager could handle very easily problems like DPI hig res. etc.

Today the GPU war made that a difficult problem and having 2 heads with WIDE setup
will consume way too much space...  I ditched that thing about 2010..

And converted the workflow exclusively to a SMART DESKTOP MANAGER..
capable of providing me a 4 or 8 WORKSPACES  integrated...

highly configurable..  each task assigned a workspace and proper position...
All things became quite manageable

Toady I have a singe monitor MUCH MUCH more bench space ..
all goes well 

And.. i do not want to waste my time with GPU vendors and their crippled drivers  :-\



--- Quote ---What do you use for that, or what would work best?
Many monitors, or Virtual Desktops, or KDE Activities, maybe something else?
--- End quote ---

I am on Windows but have a similar problem. My solution is multiple monitors and virtual desktops. A main monitor is where most work goes on, and if I want to pause and do something else I use a virtual desktop util on just that monitor to switch out the active apps and get me another desktip. A secondary monitor  holds stuff I don't want to interfere to much with what I'd doing, so stuff like help files, data sheets, etc. That monitor isn't part of the virtual desktop, so anything on it stays there even as the active monitor switches desktops.

One thing I sometimes find useful is a util that divides the desktop into sections which then hold a window. Hard to describe, so let me find a link...

That doesn't show the best bits, which is that the dividers can be any size you want and asymmetrical. Have a big one in the middle and then smaller ones at the side, perhaps a wide and shallow one at the bottom for status things, etc.

Edit: damned Youtube changing the links...

Have you considered rotating two screens into a vertical position? I have found a number of people who prefer that format and window tasks to take up top half and bottom half of screens.

I use Xmonad. 9 "virtual desktops" and I use 3 27" monitors. My day to day config :
1 - Firefox
2 - Work E-mail
3 - Firefox 2
4 - Personal E-mail
5 - Firefox 3 & CCTV
6 & 7 - Transient
8 & 9 Heads 1 and 2 on various VMs

For example I'm often doing AutoCAD. That's in a Windows VM and I pull it up on desktops 8 & 9.
Alt E8, Alt R9 puts that on the center and right hand monitors (Desktops are 1->9, Monitors are W->R).
Alt W1-7 switches whatever is on Desktops 1 through 7 to the left hand monitor while leaving the other two untouched.

I often work from PDFs or documents sent to me via E-mail, so I can pootle around those on the left hand monitor while using the 2 others for CAD. If I want to do something else I just switch other desktops on to the monitors and when I want to go back to the Windows VM it's Alt E8, Alt R9. Nothing moves, resizes or is disturbed in any other way.

I've also really gotten used to Xmonad as a modal WM, so rarely position or size a window. They auto-arrange and auto-size as I put windows onto a desktop. When I open a PDF from my full screen E-mail client, the WM splits the desktop and puts the PDF viewer next to the E-mail client. When I close the PDF viewer the E-mail client is automatically resized full screen again.

Now this isn't hard and fast. I can put anything anywhere. For example I have terminals spread over 8 & 9 doing something else and I want to clear 8 & 9 to fire up the VM viewer? I can jump on the first window in 8 and hit Shift-Alt 7 and it moves that window to desktop 7 and automatically focuses the next window on 8. Repeated Shift-Alt 7 and suddenly desktop 8 is clear with all the windows moved to 7 and arranged nicely.

Difficult to explain if you've not seen it in action, but I got sick of having to manage windows, particularly with 3 heads and Xmonad just took *all* of that away. Bit of a learning curve, but I can't go back to conventional modal windows on more than one display. Does my head in.


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