Ubuntu – Getting visual feedback of workspace switch in xfce


Not sure if this is an appropriate question for this site, since it's not really specific to Ubuntu. Those who feel it isn't should probably respond to my crosspost on the Unix and Linux stackexchange site. Sorry for any confusion, I'm still negotiating the borderlines between these sites (and superuser.com, where I also crossposted). I guess we all are.

I make heavy use of workspaces, and have a lot of them (a 6×4 grid). I usually run openbox, but am currently using a machine that doesn't have openbox set up, so I'm using xfce because it's already mostly configured to my liking. I've gotten used to getting visual feedback when I switch workspaces, showing me which one I've just moved to, and am finding myself a bit disoriented in xfce. In openbox this is a big heads-up display, which is pretty much ideal. I'm aware that the workspace switcher panel applet will highlight the active workspace, but this only seems to work for workspaces which have some desktop space showing; since I generally have all my windows maximized, this isn't super helpful.

Is there a way to enable visual feedback showing the new workspace when switching workspaces in xfce?

Best Answer

I wrote a small code that shows a notification on workspace switch action. This code requires libnotify and libwnck

To compile it use the command:

gcc -O2 -o wsnd `pkg-config  --cflags --libs libnotify --libs libwnck` wsn.c

If you found compiling errors with above command, try this one:

gcc -O2 -DWNCK_I_KNOW_THIS_IS_UNSTABLE -o wsnd `pkg-config  --cflags --libs libnotify --libs libwnck-1.0` wsn.c

To test it from a terminal: ./wsnd

Include it as XFCE startup application: In XFCE you need to add it as startup applicaion on settings-manager->session and startup -> Application Autostart

The code:

// Workspace Switch Notifier                                                        //
// Shows a OSD with workspace name on workspace switching action                    //
//                                                                                  //
// wsn.c -                                                                          //
//                                                                                  //
// Authors:                                                                         //
//    Isaac Maia Pessoa                                                             //
//                                                                                  //
// This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it          //
// under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3, as published        //
// by the Free Software Foundation.                                                 //
//                                                                                  //
// This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but              //
// WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranties of                     //
// PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License for more details.                   //
//                                                                                  //
// You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along          //
// with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.                  //

#include <libnotify/notify.h>
#include <libwnck/libwnck.h>

#define N_SUMMARY "Workspace Changed"
#define N_ICON    "dialog-information"
#define N_APPNAME "workspace switch notifier"
#define N_TIMEOUT 2000 /*2000ms = 2s */

static NotifyNotification * m_notification = NULL;

static void
on_active_workspace_changed (WnckScreen    *screen,
                             WnckWorkspace *space,
                             gpointer      data)

  WnckWorkspace * active_workspace = wnck_screen_get_active_workspace(screen);
  const char * w_name = wnck_workspace_get_name (active_workspace);

  notify_notification_update(m_notification, N_SUMMARY, w_name, N_ICON);
  notify_notification_show(m_notification, NULL);

int main(int argc, char ** argv)

   GMainLoop *loop;   
   WnckScreen *screen;

   if (notify_init(N_APPNAME))
       m_notification = notify_notification_new(N_SUMMARY, "" , N_ICON);
       fprintf(stderr, "Failed to init notifications\n");
   notify_notification_set_timeout(m_notification, N_TIMEOUT);

   gdk_init (&argc, &argv);

   loop = g_main_loop_new (NULL, FALSE);
   screen = wnck_screen_get_default();

   g_signal_connect (screen, "active-workspace-changed",
                    G_CALLBACK (on_active_workspace_changed), NULL);

   g_main_loop_run (loop);

   g_main_loop_unref (loop);    

   return 0;