I’ve just gone dual screen, and after two weeks I cannot imagine going back. Fantastic! Open Office always open on the right screen, Firefox/Thunderbird/Eclipse/Topologi/command shells in the left. This configuration makes it much easier to do research (cutting) in the left and writing (pasting) in the right: it seems to improve the rythm and sponentaity.
I feel noticeably more productive: I think there is some mental effort involved in switching contexts that brings on fatigue early. Plus the writing screen is there always, so if I am working on, say, a seminar and doing my email when a BRILLIANT IDEA strikes me, I can directly ornament the seminar notes then directly continue the email without changing the top application or switching desktops or anything else that requires memory.
I wonder whether there is an accessibility aspect to this: older people have poorer memories and are more confusable, as a stereotype. At least, that is how I feel. Larger screen space, such as multiple screens, reduces the number of things that are active yet hidden.
I’m still using my year+ old Mandrake 10 with fairly old graphics cards. Some of the info on the web was not quite right. I couldn’t use Xinerama, it crashed X Windows, but I didn’t want to. I had to pull the more powerful card down to the resolution of the less powerful one (16 bits). The plug-and-play detection of the cards and monitors worked fine, but at some stage the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file seems to have been corrupted, with lots of useful modeline entries disappearing.
For anyone in the same boat, here is the XF86Config-4 file I ended up hacking together: Download file