Tiling Window Managers and Productivity

On a recent walk whilst listening to one of my favorite podcast, the Stack Overflow Podcast, Joel and Jeff started talking about the productivity of dual monitors.

It is a [fairly] undisputed fact that having a second monitor makes any worker more productive. The reason for this is quite simple, more desktop real-estate means being able to see more applications at a time. This makes even more sense when you factor in all the tabbing between applications that you save, sometimes in my case this means tabbing multiple times because I had forgotten what I had just read.

Jeff made the point that often times he doesn’t bother with moving and resizing windows, and usually just brings it to the monitor he wants and then makes it full-screen. His point was that this makes him even more productive, because you no longer worry about placement of windows. I couldn’t agree more.

This is exactly the place where tiling window managers come in to play. A tiling window manager is one in which you do spend your time moving and resizing windows, as they are automatically placed for you. This allows you to focus on your work at hand, rather than tabbing to see all your windows, or moving and resizing to see two at once.

When you combine the power of a tiling window manager with dual screens, something magical happens. Now you have the increased desktop space in addition to no longer having to manage your windows. In my tiling window manager, XMonad, you treat each monitor as a separate window into your virtual desktops. By this I mean that you setup windows in a particular virtual desktop, and then have the ability to show that virtual desktop on whichever monitor you choose.
03-2009 XMonad Screenshot

I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of both dual screens and a tiling window manager. Some good managers for Linux are:

* XMonad
* Awesome
* Subtle