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lainchan archive - /tech/ - 32652

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So how many monitors do the lains use?

I remember reading somewhere that adding a second monitor increases general productivity by 30% and adding a third increases it further to 45%. Beyond that the diminishing returns can actually turn into loss of productivity as it becomes untenable to manage them all.

After I started using three monitors a few years ago, I just can't bring myself to use one even if it's 4K. It's just not the same. You still end up alt-tabbing, windowing, and scanning your cluttered taskbar just as much as one 1080p. It's like memory buffer overflow IRL.

I can't wrap my mind around how some programmers still use one monitor. How do you do it?

P.S. This isn't a "show your battlestation" thread. Feel free to post yours if you'd like, but the purpose of the post is to start a meta discussion around displays and productivity and workflows.


One but I kinda wish I had two, for the reasons stated.


Two but I kinda wish I had three, for the reasons stated.


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I just need ONE more, y'know?


I think it would be possible to use 5x monitors without reducing productivity.

Just add two smaller, vertical monitors on the periphery of the main three. Use them for only static content that are only occasionally referenced. That way the content remains accessible without any windowing and doesn't add any overhead to your workflow.


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if I were going for 5 I'd have them in this sort of arrangement.

5 all in a row would be too long. It would either be outside your peripheral vision at the edges or you would need to sit further back which is the same as having less screen real estate.


What kind of content would be useful in your arrangement that wouldn't be better served by four monitors with the fourth being placed directly above the center monitor? Perhaps a larger monitor than the rest.


video editing but the point wasn't "5 monitors is the best" the point was "how would I lay out 5 monitors if I had them"


I got two, one of which can be rotated. I'd love to get an additional dedicated rotated monitor sometime, but I'd have to upgrade my computer first.


Like both on articulating mounts that you move around throughout the day?


File: 1482162254786.png (172.84 KB, 200x108, Dell-Monitors-with-Rotation.gif)

Like this


Ok, that makes much more sense! XD


the laptop screen and two wide screen externals


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Whenever I am forced into a one monitor situation I heavily rely on workspaces in my DE.

For me switching to a workspace, or another buffer in an editor to an extent, does the job pretty well actually.
Although it is more cumbersome than simply turning your head to another monitor, it is still better than alt-tabbing, cursor navigating or trying to fit every window by decreasing the font size.

Kinda wish I would have more display ports available on my laptop tough,
especially when I need to see more than 5 source files at once.


I do the same thing if I'm on my laptop. I try and keep reinvent things grouped together.
wspc1: vim and a terminal to compile/debug/run
wspc2: man pages, general documentation and www for forum posts
wspc3: IRC, www for fun, misc

I never really need more than 3 but depends what you are doing.

Also I think the one monitor many workspace approach works best with a tiling system like i3 or tmux than it does with a DE. I think you expect WYSIWYG with a DE where as you naturally keep a mental map of everything with a tiler out of necessity.


I have two. I don't know what I'd do with a third one. The first one is in front of me, the second one is in portrait mode on the left. Portrait mode is very useful when reading doc since pages tend to have more vertical content. I sort of wish my second display was an e-ink monitor but the technology isn't advanced enough yet.


I have one due to desk space restrictions, although I really wish I had two. I don't program, how ever when I did have two things were just easier.


I can't afford a second monitor. So I run i3wm with minimal clutter to take maximum advantage of space. My usual workspace configuration is:

1: URXVT terminal
2: Firefox
3: Steam
4: Whatever else I need.

When I'm coding, I'll split the display horizontally (it's a widescreen, so horizontal split is optimal): 1/2 Firefox and 1/2 Emacs. Yes, I could a browser in Emacs, but those don't tend to render anything serious very well.

In some cases, I don't need the browser window up, and it'll be in another workspace. This is common when I'm writing, say, Lisp/Scheme code, as SLIME and Geiser both have excellent builtin docs browsers.

When I'm away from home, my coding setup is an 80x$DISPLAY_HEIGHT ssh terminal, and whatever browser I can find on the system occupying the rest of screen. It's not optimal, but it works.


3 is my maximum right now because I don't have any more display ports. A 16:9 in the middle with a 5:4 on the left and 4:3 on the right.



When I am at a desktop, I like to have as much monitors as possible. Usually thats 2, either because the graphic card does not have more slots, I don't have more monitors, or because I am using a laptop as a desktop.

On laptops I have always used the virtual desktops on Linux, which works very well for me.

Lets say that when I am on my laptop, I am switching and using all 4 virtual desktops at the same time. On a desktop, I am only using one or two. More than that, I start losing focus of my task.

I feel equally productive in both cases. I am really sorry for Windows folks that have to use alt+tab all the time...


There are actually virtual desktops in windows 10 now, win+tab to show them, there is a wee plus in the corner to add them and ctrl+win+{L|R} to switch between them.


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Yep, Microsoft is getting cooler and cooler as the Balmer and Bill Gate$ days get deeper into the past. I heard that they even got the Linux shell inside Windows. The surface also looks like good engineering.

But I am still a Linux kind of guy :P, I only use windows for games and the eventual program that I can't run anywhere else.


True. But I don't trust them until I see their kernel code on a GPL licence.


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> kernel code on a GPL licence.
> Microsoft

Too much money/back-doors involved for this to ever happen.


>I can't wrap my mind around how some programmers still use one monitor. How do you do it?

trackpoint, virtual workspaces, and a libre clone of apple's mission control.

I would go insane on a tiler tbh. might be different if I get off my x-series thinkpad with 1366*768.


Use a tiling window manager like i3.


I run 6 50 inch monitors

3 bottom 3 top


I use one 1920x1200 monitor since I use my laptop 99% of the time and it only has one video out that works.

I rarely even use multiple workspaces anymore, Stump is a nice enough WM that I can easily manage all my open programs on one screenspace. I can easily jump to any application and shift things around momentarily.

That being said, I would certainly not say no to a higher resolution monitor. If one became available in a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect I might consider buying it.


I generally use two monitors, most commonly so I can have terminals in one and documentation in the other.


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I use only one as I have limited desk space. I use virtual desktops as solution. One for development environment and file manger, email clients, communicators, terminals and notes, music player, Firefox, one for random stuff. I already mastered all shortcuts so getting two apps side by side, moving apps between desktops and switching them is my second nature.

It can be painful to remember to manage it properly and don't allow clutter to creep in during work. Double monitor setup is something I miss from my office workstation. But it's cozy setup I'm fine with, when I have two displays I still behave in similar manner, just Firefox gets own dedicated and it serves as transfer space when I want to quick side by side. I would be fine with one hi-res display too.


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Just one (20 inch LCD @1600x900) but I offload certain tasks to either a headless machine (anything that will run in a tmux session on very old hardware) or the crappy laptop next to me. I used to have two but my video card couldnt really cope with it, and a lot of games did not like the setup either.

I am not a particularly heavy multitasker so my setup works fine in most cases.


at home : pivot 22" + 27" + 23"
at work: 27" + 23"

at home it's luxury, at work it's an absolute must have


One... Guys, I don't get why you would need more than one monitor, my neck feels hurt from just thinking having to constantly change your viewpoint.


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I use one monitor. 16:9 resolution so I usually split in half by displaying windows side-by-side. This new widescreen standard has to be put to use somehow. Video and graphics editing is none of my business so I really don't need it.

My parents still have a 4:3 monitor and I love how it prevents distraction by not stretching awareness to the (most often empty) sides. Just sit down, do your focused work and leave. Isn't that how a computer is supposed to be used?
Of course some people might need a 2nd screen for constant display of some crucial content/information but ALT+Tab is enough for me... and I haven't even been using workspaces yet. Or sometimes I just print my information on paper and put it on my desk, easy.


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4 is the minimum number Lain... 6 is definitely preferable!

1 for main work area,
2 for pallets and extras
3 for work source/output
4 for email, coms & system
5 porn
6 porn


One for each system, except of course none for the headless servers.

Maximum size is 24.1" for 8:5 AR and 22" for 4:3.
25" in 16:9 would probably be passable too (i only have one 16:9 AR monitor, Eizo CG247-4K, which is 23.8").
I have couple of 29.8" 2560x1600 LCD monitors and they are way too big. Need to move eyes much more than is comfortable, especially when looking at the screen for 12 hours.


2 at work, 1 at home because I'm poor as soykaf. I've found two to be the sweetspot because I can just barely fill them with applications.


I know you invented the internet but you also invented global warming so I don't think I can trust you. It never used to get that warm in summertime and you didn't consider the polar bears either Mr Gore.


how about having 2 vertical


1 portrait 1 landscape

1 for media 1 for code/text


I use two two giant high res 30 inch monitors


2 at work, 2 at home. Finally have both monitors at both locations as 1440p. Thinking of adding a 3rd 1440p at home but worried I might get to used to it and want it at work. My work laptop wouldn't support a 3rd screen of that size and I would end up missing it.

I have 5 workspaces and while I don't name them, two of them are kind of "anchor points" for specific workflows, and the rest are there to support those two main spaces.

Workspace 2 is where my editor and terminals go when I'm coding, where a VM might be if I'm photoshopping in Windows or otherwise. Basically an anchor point for where work happens.
Workspace 1 is a scratch space for terminals that aren't being used or don't need to constantly be visible while working on 2. When I'm coding to music, I'll put the player here as well, though I mostly control playback via hotkeys.

Workspace 4 is for communication: email, todo lists, irc, slack (at work), forums, Lainchan.
Workspace 5 is a scratch space for 4, and ends up collecting browser tabs of things I want to save and read later.

Workspace 3 is a shared cache between 2 and 4, any time I am working on something that also needs communication, or where I might need to have some terminal or webpage referenced in both.

That all sounds REALLY awkward having written it out, but it feels really logical in my mind when I'm using it. And that's what matters, yeah?


One. I find multiple monitors to be a distraction.


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these, pretty much. multiple monitors are only useful when inefficient window management systems are used, or when the individual monitors are too small to display at least a single split comfortably.

i've tried using two or three monitors in the past, but have always come back to just the one. it's just easier to press a single keystroke than to physically turn your head, particularly when your fingers never leave the keyboard for any reason.

if the work involved was something like drawing with a tablet and using the other display as a reference, can see it being useful, but for programming / sys management / or just bouncing around websites and jotting notes, one display is best.

head movements are distracting, drawing you out of focus and back into physical space. basically, why go to the content when you can make it come to you?

as for the horizontal vs. vertical layout thing. vertical layouts are awkward and uncomf, as they also require physical head-movement rather than just eyes. if you want more context at once, that's what vim folds are for.

>The Linux Shell
wat even

>cooler and cooler

windows is a forever-growing pile of garbage that nobody understands, with each generation of developers piling more garbage on top of the last, so the old garbage disappears into obscurity until suddenly something shifts down near the bottom of the pile and everything collapses.

also, the whole "push everything to The Cloud" bandwagon they've been trying to hop on for a decade now might actually get somewhere soon, which is the opposite of cool.

and, unlike other well-known tech companies, they're hardly doing anything to help push back the boundaries of computability. head to SC, for example, and every other company there will have a rack to add to the cluster display and a huge, open booth full of cool stuff... and microsoft will be set up in the corner with a tiny booth covered in pictures of tablets.


I use a single monitor, this one: http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-ultrasharp-34-curved-ultrawide-monitor-u3415w/apd/210-adtr/monitors-monitor-accessories

It's a huge, 34 in curved monitor. I didn't buy it, it's my office monitor. I'm poor af and can't afford stuff like this. At home, I pretty much just use 15" mbp.


>I'm poor
>15" mbp
you wouldn't be if you managed your money better


I have two solutions depending on whether I feel like being at my desk or elsewhere.
At my desk I recently got a hand-me-down DVI monitor that's close enough to my HDMI one, so I made it a secondary display. They're close enough to identical the difference doesn't really bother me, and I like being able to segregate my important tasks and entertainment by physical monitors. It's nice being able to hide stuff I shouldn't be distracted by using virtual workspaces, but it's also nice to be able to look out of the corner of my eye and see if a message is important or not at a glance instead of switching workspaces, seeing all my fun stuff for a brief second, and then trying to pry myself away and get back to work. It's pretty subjective but that's what works for me. It's also nice when I'm playing games with people because I can have a game running on my main monitor and a chat program and sometimes music open on the other monitor.
On my laptop, though, I only have virtual workspaces as an option, and while I don't exactly prefer it anymore I've been using them in a handful of DEs since 2011 so I like them well enough. Workspace 1 is for my most important task and is kept to the minimum amount of windows, workspace 2 is chat programs, music, miscellaneous entertainment stuff. Workspace 3 is for a secondary important task if I have one. If I'm being disciplined and not getting distracted I switch 2 and 3 though.
I also have my phone handy with either setup, which basically ends up being another semi-necessary distraction, since sometimes I get time-sensitive messages that way.
In the future I'm hoping to work on streamlining things and lessening my distractions or limiting them to a smaller window of time, so that'll probably involve making better use of my phone's selective do-not-disturb feature and probably some combination of better self-restraint and a less cluttered workflow. General purpose computing is a blessing and a curse.


I myself only use one monitor, resorting to virtual desktops if i (rarely) need to do so.


I personally use a single 1280x1024 monitor. It was manufactured and sold by Gateway. It might sound "le haxxor assthetick", but it truly isn't. I'm waiting to eventually get a 1920x1080 monitor. I dislike having mildly cramped UI.


2 is my number
soykafty 15.6" laptop screen at 1366x768 on the right, and an Acer V223w on the left at 22" and 1680x1050
Openbox does well for workspaces, and I have 4 of them.
1: code on right screen, browser on left
2: music on right screen, file browser on left
3: terminals littering both screens
4: usually my VM will go here on the left. Right is usually troubleshooting browser.


Besides my 1080p laptop screen, I've used my TV, which is on my desk for space reasons, for it a couple of times, but the neck angle that the layout requires is not ideal. I do want to find a way to get it working- these USB portable monitors sound like a really cool deal and may work a bit better.


LOL...MBP is my work computer too. The desktop I built with my own money cost < $200 five years ago and is on the verge of death.