Virtual Desktops & Desktop Grid Suggestions for Kubuntu
Open, Needs TriagePublic

Description

by default, Kubuntu only comes with 1 Virtual Desktop, yet it has shortcuts setup for 4 and it also includes the Desktop Pager widget on the panel by default even though with only 1 it doesn't display anything.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. add some desktops for a total to start with of 4 Virtual Desktops
    • I'd also suggest 4 rows to have them aligned in a vertical stack.
      • the reason for the stack is to make it easier to navigate the desktops (up and down only)
  2. disable the desktop pager from the panel because it's not doing anything anyway by default.
  3. Add/replace shortcut for activating the Desktop Grid effect to Meta+D (unused currently)
    • aka Super+D = D for Desktops
  4. Edit the Desktop Grid's effect configuration for Layout Mode from Pager to Automatic
    • this way the keyboard navigation is more simple yet the Desktop Grid looks good by automatically aligning the desktops into a nice grid style.
  5. Modify the shortcuts for navigating Virtual Desktops as the current defaults are awkward at best.
    1. currently we have Ctrl+F1-F4 to navigate through Virtual Desktops, that don't exist. I suggest replacing these or adding the following:
      1. change these shortcuts to Meta+Alt+1-0 (1 - 10 desktops, should a user want more)
      2. this allows for easy access and control while also not interfering with the Meta+1-0 of the task manager apps shortcuts
    2. I also suggest adding Meta+Ctrl+1-0 for moving windows to these desktops. (this is a function of KWin that is unused)
    3. Meta+Alt+Up or Down to easily navigate in a previous / next style movement of desktops
      • Alternative would be Ctrl+Alt+Up or Down as this is used for GNOME as a default and was used for Unity
      • Meta+Ctrl+Up or Down could be another alternative as Meta+Alt+Up or Down does conflict with navigating windows shortcut.
        • However, I would suggest changing this because this function is super weird and not very useful so navigating with Meta+Alt+Up or Down would be the most logical and ideal solution mixed with Meta+Alt+#s
          • this refers to the "Switch to Window Above/Below" function which is not very useful as it repeats the first window you had often
          • plus there's also Alt+Tab and Alt+` which everyone would use anyway.
      • Another option, though this is an addition rather than a replacement for the others would be to use Super+Tab and Super+Shift+Tab to navigate through virtual desktops. This is currently used for cycling through Activities but lets face it 99% of Plasma users dont use Activities and 95% of them don't even know what they are. It's just a wasted shortcut right now.
michaeltunnell updated the task description. (Show Details)

I edited the original comment to add Super+Tab and Super+Shift+Tab option for desktop switching because Activities are rather pointless to be taking of space for such a valuable shortcut.

I've noticed on KDE Neon, which I assume to be vanilla KDE, this is also true. I can't think of a reason to not have at least two desktops configured as default but I guess there is one? I'd like to second the suggestion for configuring at least two if not four desktops by default. I personally don't want them stacked vertically as I prefer a 2x2 grid but I would be fine with changing it if the default was something else. The rest of Michael's suggestion make sense but just adding the desktops is a good first step.

Also, @michaeltunnell suggests using Meta + D but I see that in Plasma 5.16 they are assigning that as the default for Show Desktop. Not sure that matters but figured I'd mention it.

michaeltunnell added a comment.EditedMay 29 2019, 2:49 PM

I personally don't want them stacked vertically as I prefer a 2x2 grid but I would be fine with changing it if the default was something else.

This is the beauty of Plasma/KWin Virtual Desktops, you can have the desktops aligned vertically for keyboard navigation but when you open the Desktop Grid it will display it differently. This is why I suggested to change it from Layout Mode to Automatic because that way the will be vertical for navigation BUT when you open the grid they will be in a nice grid layout as you prefer.

Alternatively, Windows does it left and right instead of up and down. However they use Meta+Ctrl instead of Meta+Alt so I suppose it depends if we want to adopt that paradigm or not. There are good reasons to do it and to not do it.

Edit: now that I think about it, Plasma/KWin doesn't have a shortcut by default for switching desktops at all so that leaves 2 global spots. I say do the Meta+Alt+Up/Down (or Left/Right) but also do the Windows scheme of Meta+Ctrl+Left/Right so people moving over who know that can use that as well. That covers transition and keeps in sync with the Meta+Alt+D to activate the grid.

Also, @michaeltunnell suggests using Meta + D but I see that in Plasma 5.16 they are assigning that as the default for Show Desktop. Not sure that matters but figured I'd mention it.

Well that is certainly annoying because it took them so long to do something that has been in Windows for over a decade but alright. Meta+Alt+D then ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Also, @michaeltunnell suggests using Meta + D but I see that in Plasma 5.16 they are assigning that as the default for Show Desktop. Not sure that matters but figured I'd mention it.

Well that is certainly annoying because it took them so long to do something that has been in Windows for over a decade but alright. Meta+Alt+D then ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

If you saw the kind of pushback I sometimes get when I submit patches for things like this, you'd be happy they wind up getting done at all rather than annoyed that they took so long. :)

Also, @michaeltunnell suggests using Meta + D but I see that in Plasma 5.16 they are assigning that as the default for Show Desktop. Not sure that matters but figured I'd mention it.

Well that is certainly annoying because it took them so long to do something that has been in Windows for over a decade but alright. Meta+Alt+D then ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

If you saw the kind of pushback I sometimes get when I submit patches for things like this, you'd be happy they wind up getting done at all rather than annoyed that they took so long. :)

I've seen the pushback in some cases and thats why its annoying and why I was somewhat amused as well. Pulling teeth is easier in some cases.

rikmills added a subscriber: rikmills.EditedMay 31 2019, 8:37 AM
  1. 4 seems a lot, and stacking 4 vertically in the pager makes them too tiny. 2 stacked vertically does look just about ok.
  2. Well, if we should have more than one VD by default, then the pager has a desirable use. If we are not, then it just does not show, but appears should a user add some. So either way, I can't see a case for removing it.

I think having two at least makes the feature visible whereas right now it's essentially hidden unless a user knows what virtual desktops are and how to enable them. I'm not sure how many people use virtual desktops but for me it's one of the more useful productivity features, one that attracted me to Linux DEs before Windows had an equivalent feature.

If there isn't more than one configured then I agree that leaving the pager in place makes sense so that's it's available should the user add more desktops.

michaeltunnell added a comment.EditedJul 20 2019, 5:02 PM

@rikmills

  1. I don't think 4 is a lot. I think it is a good number for productivity and also looks great in a grid view.
  2. this might be an unpopular opinion but I think the pager in the panel should not even be there. It should be removed entirely.
    • yes, with more than 2 it's pretty bad, it effectively becomes worthless especially if you have multiple monitors.
      • so when someone does increase it more than 2 . . . they have to manually remove it, or ignore it, anyway.
    • instead Kubuntu should ship a button that simply activates the Desktop Grid. (just a simple kwin command, here's a demo)
      • there is an icon already available to do this in the Breeze icons as well so no extra work there.

*note: I am not saying the Pager is a bad applet, I think it is bad to be in the main panel because it effectively becomes super small pretty much the moment you begin using it. However, create a latte dock on the right or left side exclusively for the Pager applet and that works super slick.


@ericadams

I believe the majority of people don't use them because they don't know they exist. This is why there should be multiples and the above reasons is why I think the pager should simply be removed.

This would make it very easy to introduce the concept to people and it makes it very clean UX in doing so.