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Surfing on two screens? //at 22:31 //by abe

from the usability dept.

At work, I’ve got two screens on my Sarge workstation “snitch”. Since I want to switch virtual desktops independently on both screens, I don’t have a Xinerama setup but a Dual Screen setup. So my left and right screen do have different $DISPLAY (“:0.0” and “:0.1”) set.

This is neither a problem for FVWM nor xlock nor XScreenSaver. But it is a problem for nearly every modern web browser available which checks, if there’s already an instance of it running. So if you try to start a new instance of a web browser on the other screen, most graphical web browsers make more or less problems:

  • Galeon 1.3 and Epiphany always opens new tabs or windows on the display where its first instance is running, i.e. ignores $DISPLAY completely except on the first call.
  • Kazehakase (0.3.7) just opens a new tab in the running instance.
  • Firefox 2.0 thinks it crashed and asks if it should restore tabs and windows. Haven’t tried any further.
  • Opera 9.20 pops up a dialog, says, there seems already a copy of Opera running and asks if it should continue with startup. If you say yes, only the bookmarks of one of the two instances get saved, probably those of the one with the last added bookmark or the one which exited last.

The only graphical web browsers which simply just work on a Dual Screen setup are Konqueror, Links2 (called with the -g option for a GUI), Chimera 2, Amaya and of course Dillo. Unfortunately I’m neither a fan of KDE nor of Konqueror and I do want a web browser with CSS and tab support… And Amaya is, well, only a reference implementation… (Chimera 2 from Sarge btw. segfaulted on two of the four pages I tested it with. Seems to have problems with PNG images.)

So my current setup is to have Kazehakase as my main work web browser (with all the local web applications I need) on the right screen while I have Opera on the left screen for surfing, looking up documentation, testing web pages and other things.

BTW: I don’t use Gecko based browsers for surfing on that box at the moment, since there are some web pages (the spammer vandalised Kazehakase wiki for example, at least a few months ago) which manage to be rendered in such an ugly way by Gecko so that XFree86 with the binary Nvidia (at least the last five or six versions I tried) just crashes away — either at once or when you try to switch to a text console by pressing e.g. Ctrl-Alt-F1 while such a page is displayed.

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the Network Security Group (NSG) of the Central IT Services (Informatikdienste) at ETH Zurich.

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