Confusion between virtual desktops and viewports

Bug #153322 reported by Daniel on 2007-10-16
This bug affects 6 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
compiz (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: compiz

There is confusion between "Virtual desktops" and "Viewports" in Compiz. Both use the workspace switcher applet, which behaves differently depending on the settings.

Virtual desktop and viewports can be set in the Compiz settings menu under General options, Desktop size. When "Number of desktops" is set to 1, the workspace switcher applet shows the number of viewports. Using the keys crtl+alt+[left|right] I can switch between workspaces, and the applet show that.
If I set the number of desktop to any number higher than 1, the applet suddenly shows desktops, and no longer viewports, without any indication of that change. Using the hotkeys I can still switch between viewports, however, the applet does not change because it shows desktops. Clicking on the applet to switch to another desktop is possible, and there I have a whole new set of viewports. There are no hotkeys to switch to a new desktop.
From this new desktop, I can only see the application on the viewports associated with this desktop. E.g. the window selector applet only shows windows from the new desktop, and not windows from the first desktop. These windows are 'somehow lost'.

The unclear distinction between desktops and viewports leads also to other bugs, such as #145704. It is also not possible to drag windows between viewports, but it is possible to drag them between desktops.

Anders Hall (kallebolle) wrote :

Another odd behaviour of my two Desktops (except the fact that I cant find the setting for adding four Desktops) is that i have the same icons on both Desktops though different programs opened on them. My point is: i USE my desktop for organising and displaying information (not just for handling windows) and therefor i don't want the same icons appearing twice.

Would it not be better if there were a possibility to select if Desktops should have the same icons (in my case mostly text files) on all Desktops or if individual settings should apply for all or some Desktops?

Having different windows opened helps me in being more productive... different icons and content on the Desktops would achieve even greater productivity in my case.

Travis Watkins (amaranth) wrote :

That is not something compiz has any control over. You have the same problem when using metacity (no effects). That's a feature request for nautilus.

Jo Vermeulen (jozilla) wrote :

This was also what caused problems on my system. I had number_of_desktops set to 4 as well as hsize set to 4 (probably some setting that was still in there from Feisty). This caused the workspace switcher applet to crash once in a while, and be really slow when clicking on different workspaces (well, actually desktops). Also, when I switched with Ctrl+Alt+left or Ctrl+Alt+Right, the workspace switcher wasn't updated, since I was still on the same desktop.

Having set number_of_desktops to 4, it works again ...

Stu (funkyfredmale) wrote :

I second the original - this is very confusing. I've been using Gnome/Linux for a few years now, and make a lot of use of the workspace switcher to drag windows from one workspace to another. It took me an hour of thinking the workspace switcher was "broken" because I couldn't drag windows between workspaces - which at the time were "viewports". I followed the instructions above, and now I can drag windows between workspaces - because they're "desktops" now. Why all the re-definitions? This seems to be introducing complexity for the sake of confusion, and nothing else.

The simplest answer would seem to be to collapse "desktops" and "viewports" back into the original concept of workspaces.
i.e. Desktops == Viewports == Workspaces.

Also note that switching the workspaces to desktops means that you can't adjust the workspace row & column size in the workspace switcher anymore.
AND even if you increase the number of desktops so you can drag windows via the workspace switcher, you don't _see_ the window in the new workspace, it just sort of disappears into it. i.e, if you you're on desktop 1, and drag window A to desktop 2 via the workspace switcher, it's icon disappears from the workspace switcher's icon of desktop 1, but doesn't show up on the workspace switcher's icon of desktop 2. It used to work like this, and was very useful, when trying to remember which workspace/desktop you moved your window too.

In short, it seems we've managed to make 1 + 1 < 1 (where viewports and desktops combined offer less functionality then the previous concept of workspaces).

Maybe someone could just make a "viewport switcher" that replaces the "workspace switcher", and do away with the concept of desktops altogether?

I dunno. I just want my effects _and_ my workspace switcher back :(

Stu (funkyfredmale) wrote :

Just adding keywords/Description so the next old fogie to try compiz can find this discussion easier..
Workspace Switcher doesn't work with Compiz
Can't drag windows between workspaces with compiz enabled.
(this is what I searched with for a while before just going one-by-one through all the workspace switcher bugs)

Travis Watkins (amaranth) wrote :

Workspaces == Desktops. Viewports are a different concept that several compiz features require. And (IMO) they're better anyway because it's more obvious what is going on since apps can overlap onto more than one at a time.

Stu (funkyfredmale) wrote :

Agreed that viewports can be nice, not contesting that. But ( workspace != desktop || workspace switcher != Good name for application ).

Why? sometimes the "workspace" switcher switches viewports and sometimes desktops. The worst is when you switch desktops and then switch viewports in that new desktop, and then the gnome-panel doesn't follow you (different bug, already reported I think). Now you're basically stuck. You can't switch back. All you can do is kill gnome-panel or X, and wait for it too restart on your current viewport/desktop.

Or you reduce the number of desktops to one, with windows still on invisible desktops, NOW you just lose all you're previous windows. You can't get them back. Ugh.

What I'm trying to get at is it would be nice to kill off the idea of Desktops altogether (at least with compiz enabled) BUT be sure the gnome-panel follows you AND the "workspace" switcher is now a "viewport" switcher, and you can drag windows around in it, just like with desktops. And, most importantly of all, be sure that _under no circumstance_ can you paint yourself into a corner and "lose" windows, and not be able to get back to them.

I just realized expo sort of does what I want out of the workspace switcher. But it would still be nice to have the applet. Or at least not have it so broken. And, worse, moving around windows with expo seems to break Alt-Tab! (the moved window is lost from the Alt-Tab list). More ugh.

Basically I second the O.P. the workspace switcher and it's interaction with viewports and desktops leads to a lot of confusion, and the appearance of bugs, if not actual ones. Aesthically, viewports are nice, but using them often is a big headache. Keep the appearance, but make them, at the very least, as functional as the old idea of workspaces/desktops.

Stu (funkyfredmale) wrote :

Not that the "break Alt-tab" means: Windows A & B on viewport 1, Move window B to viewport 2 and _back_ to viewport 1, and Alt-Tab loses that window. Also the Alt-Shift-Tab (or the windows switcher that shows up like a list), lets you see all the windows in the list, but when you switch to Window B in the list, it doesn't actually switch, it just returns to Window A repeatedly. errr...

Stu (funkyfredmale) wrote :

Sorry - "Not that" = "Note that"

Travis Watkins (amaranth) wrote :

In compiz in hardy you cannot have multiple desktops anymore. Viewports are the only option.

Changed in compiz:
status: New → Fix Released
dfalk (dfalk) wrote :

Why was that option removed? Some people might like desktops better. I for example don't like moving my window off to the side, and then switching to another workspace and finding it in the task list because a few pixels are over the border.

Also, viewports screw up wmctrl, which is annoying to me. I wish there was the option to use desktops instead. Why isn't there?

Travis Watkins (amaranth) wrote :

Desktops have less features and are really broken. Unfortunately no one cares to fix these bugs upstream and we have no reason to as we use viewports.

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