Tagged With virtual desktops

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Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can greatly simplify managing individual machines, but isn't always popular with end users. Andrew Dimech, head of IT at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), offers some simple tips on how to ensure VDI is widely adopted.

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Long before multiple monitors were popular (or financially feasible), there were virtual desktops—applications that allow you to swap your entire workspace with another for easy compartmentalization of your work. Here's a look at five of the most popular virtual-desktop managers.

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Windows only: Virtual desktop utility DoubleDesktop does exactly what its name implies—it creates two virtual desktops in a tiny package that uses less than 1 MB of RAM. Using the lightweight utility is very simple—just click the system tray icon to switch back and forth between the two virtual desktops, or optionally set a hotkey in the preferences to flip between the two virtual desktops. Moving windows between desktops is the only annoying part—you have to drag them halfway and catch them on the other side. Readers looking for a full-featured virtual desktop solution would be better served with a solution like previously mentioned VirtuaWin — but this tiny utility might be just the ticket for low-memory systems. DoubleDesktop is a free download, Windows only.

DoubleDesktop

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Windows only: WindowsPager is a free and light-weight application for managing virtual desktops. The application is just over 300k and uses around 5MB of system memory. Windows Pager requires no installation or administrative rights to run. After running the executable a small bank of four screens—see the screenshot at left— is placed on the Windows taskbar. Clicking on one of the four panes in takes you to one of the four virtual desktops. On a multiple monitor setup, WindowsPager treats all of the monitors as one enormous desktop and cycling through the virtual desktops will fresh all of the multiple monitors accordingly. WindowsPager was quick to respond to changes and bring up the new windows for each virtual desktop. WindowsPager is a free portable-application, Windows only. WindowsPapger

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Mac OS X only: Hyperspaces adds several simple but useful customisation features to OS X Leopard's built-in virtual desktop tool, Spaces. With Hyperspaces, you can set different wallpapers to different desktops, name you desktops, create a handful of keyboard shortcuts (including shortcuts to jump directly to a specific space), and much more. If you're already a fan of Spaces, Hyperspaces is a must-have addition. The program is developed by the same guy who created previously mentioned VirtueDesktops—an incredible virtual desktop app that pre-dated Spaces—so you can bet this one will continue to add great features. Hyperspaces is currently a free download (you'll need to pony up $US13 if you want to customise more than two spaces), requires Mac OS X 10.5.3 or higher. Hyperspaces [via Switching To Mac

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Mac OS X only: Freeware application Warp adds a preference pane to your System Preference that enhances Leopard's virtual desktop tool, Spaces, so that you can switch between spaces using just your mouse. After you've installed and enabled Warp, move your mouse to the edge of the screen to switch to the adjacent space. If you've enabled the "Click screen edge to Warp" option, Warp even provides a preview of the space you're about to switch to. Click the preview and you're there. Warp is freeware, Mac OS X only. Warp

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Windows only: Free virtual desktop manager VirtuaWin creates multiple workspaces on your PC without bogging down your system. Like other virtual desktop utilities for Windows we've covered (Virtual Dimension, Vista Virtual Desktops, Dexpot) VirtuaWin provides hotkeys for switching desktops, custom features per desktop, and a configurable number of desktops (up to 160 20). VirtuaWin is also open source and describes itself as small and fast "with no unnecessary features." If you want extra features, you can still have them by installing VirtuaWin Modules, which enhance the app much like Firefox extensions. (How we love pluggable open source software!) VirtuaWin is a free download for Windows only. VirtuaWin - Virtual Desktops for Windows

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You love working inside your Linux desktop, but at the most inconvenient times you've got to reboot into Windows—whether to open a tricky Office file, try out a Windows application, or even just play a quick game. However, with some free tools and a Windows installation disk, you can have Windows apps running right on your Linux desktop and sharing the same desktop files. It's relatively painless, it takes only a little bit longer than a Windows XP install, and it works just like virtualizing Windows on a Mac with Parallels Coherence—except it's free. Here's how to set up Windows inside VirtualBox, and then get Windows apps running seamlessly inside your desktop.

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Virtual desktops have been popular amongst geeks for years, but they're just starting to catch on with the consumer desktop crowd; in Leopard, Spaces be thy name. Previously Mac users had an incredible virtual desktop application called Virtue Desktops as their desktop management option, but with the announcement of Spaces, development on Virtue Desktops was dropped. I'm a huge fan of Virtue Desktops, so in my eyes, Spaces has some pretty big shoes to fill. So how does Spaces stand up?