Dual Monitors

It’s a dreary, fall-like day and I’m on a big couch cuddled up to a warm laptop when I find I need to do a side by side comparison of data in an accounting app window and a spreadsheet. Woe is me, I have only one monitor!

My main desktop machines have had dual monitors for many years. Being used to two monitors, it always feels crippling to only have one. I’ll probably fix my immediate need by unplugging a monitor from some other machine and plugging it in to my laptop external monitor port as soon as I finish this post.

If you have not tried dual monitors you really should. The ability to work on a document while researching on-line with both word processor and web browser open full-screen is wonderful. Or have one monitor for work and the second for IMs, Twitters or what have you. Any time you find yourself Alt-Tabbing between windows is a good time to have multiple monitors. And it’s easy!

My first dual monitor machine was a Celeron 533, Windows 98 box with onboard video and a $10 used PCI video card. Plug in the two monitors, right-click on the desktop and select … oh heck, I forget. “Configure desktop” maybe? I don’t have a Windows machine anymore, but it’s pretty obvious when it’s in front of you. Enable the second monitor and you’re off! Windows XP was just as easy and I’m sure Windows Vista is too. Have a look at this Windows blog…

On Linux it used to be a bit more difficult. You had to add the second monitor by editing your xf86config file manually. It could take a bit of trial and error, with care not to set too high refresh rates for fear of harming your monitors. These days dual monitors are detected and xorg.conf written automagically. You just have to make some decisions around options regarding how you want it to work. Here’s a good example of multiple monitors in action. Wow. I almost wish I hadn’t seen that.

In these days of virtualization I suppose a person could even run multiple OS with multiple monitors and have a separate ‘machine’ on each display! Hmmm.

You can do dual monitors with two video cards or pick up a video card that supports two monitors. It’s not difficult and it’s a great boon to productivity and workspace comfort. Give it a try!

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