Monday, July 25, 2011

Using the half screen window snap with dual monitors in Nvidia TwinView for Ubuntu 11.04

Ok, I didn't know you could do this. I wondered in the back of my head how the half screen window snap would work for dual monitors in TwinView in the Nvidia x server. I don't know if you could always do this and I assumed it just wouldn't work, but it does! Now, I just recently updated my Nvidia driver to 270.09.07 so I am not sure if it came with that or with an Ubuntu update? Anyways here are the screen shots to prove it. Now if I could just the quad monitor setup to work....

Edit: 9-12-11 This is an addition to help with a comment made below asking for help with this situation.

This first shot shows the nVidia X Server Setting app in Ubuntu and highlights the X Server Display Configuration which is setup with the TwinView configuration for a two monitor display.

This second shot is to demonstrate the selection of the Separate X Screen option for a configuration and highlights the Xinerama option which becomes available in this setup for dual monitors.


  1. Hello, would you perhaps like to lend some info on how exactly this worked? Out of the box my 2 monitors only support snapping as if both were one window. So I only can snap to the very far end of each screen. That said I want to be able to attach to the edges of each physical screen, so i can possibly have 4 vertical snapped windows or more if including horizontal grid... thanks in advance =)

  2. Sure no problem. However, I am not sure what exactly caused this to work because I believe it didn't at first with the release of Ubuntu 11.04. I do have a few comments/suggestions though.

    First your issue maybe stemming from the way the dual screens are setup. If you have an nVidia card supporting you monitors and the nVidia X Server Settings installed, then look at the setup information. If you go to the X Server Display Configuration and select it with the mouse, then you have some options to configure your setup. Check to see if the Configuration is set up to be TwinView. Now, the Xinerama option becomes available when the user selects a Configuration option of a setup as a Separate X Screen. However, my computer at home does. The Xinerama option should be at the top of Configuration box right above the Display and X Screen tabs. If you have this option, then see if it is check marked or not. If it is, then this could be the problem as Xinerama stretches the desktop over two windows instead of the TwinView which treats each monitor as "two" desktops where you can cross the middle boundary with your pointer and window boxes. In contrast, when the Separate configuration option is chosen with no Xinerama, then the two monitors are treated as two separate desktops and you cannot cross the boundary in the middle.

    Now like I said before, I don't know why or how I was able to get this feature. You can try adding the nVidia ppa to install the latest nVidia driver which may do the trick.

    My general setup is two monitors on one nVidia card. I have it setup with the TwinView configuration. My latest nVidia driver is 270.41.06 for my office computer and 280.13.

    To install the nVidia ppa see this post:

    Right now I can't think of anything else. I'll post some screen shots added to this post. Hope this helps in some way. If you want you can post some info on how your system is setup related to TwinView vs Separate X Screen, Unity DE vs KDE vs CLassic GNOME vs XFCE, etc. Then we can try to proceed from there if the above comments do not help. I could also probably be of more help if I knew more about the X Server and xorg.conf and how to manipulate them in the terminal or whatever the more experienced Ubuntu/Linux users do, :P!

    Also, as just a side note, I've noticed that some Ubuntu users experience issues with dual screen/view setups (with the new Unity desktop at least, not sure about older releases) while I have not had any issues with the setup. I am not sure if I have just been lucky or if it is with the hardware or what. Some cannot get dual monitors to work at all with Unity.

    Oh, just though of something. I have been using other desktops beside Ubuntu 11.04 Unity to get my 4 monitors to work properly. If I can remember correctly, the snap feature may not be available in classic GNOME or XFCE (Xubuntu). I'll test these out when I get the chance.

  3. Just adding that the snap feature may not work properly in my 4 monitor setup for other DEs because I have to have Xinerama enabled to get the four to work. The reason I mention about the snap feature for other DEs is that I think DEs like classic GNOME do not have the snap feature at all. I believe the snap feature was something new for Ubuntu 11.04 thus for Unity since classic GNOME is heading by the wayside. However, I think Kubuntu's KDE does have the snap feature. I am not sure about Xubuntu's XFCE.

    Also search for my other post regarding the different desktop environments (DEs) if some explanation or additional help is need.