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The Icon Bar: News and features: !DualHead in use
 

!DualHead in use

Posted by Mark Stephens on 06:20, 8/9/2017 | ,
 
[Update] Please note that this review is based on version one of the software - an update was released this week which we will evaluate in a future article.
 
Now that we have !DualHead installed it is time to experiment with the world of dual head RISC OS desktops.
 


 
You now have one very large desktop and the ability to select screen modes to give you a very workable screen area. I have two 27inch monitors this gives me 3840 x 1200 resolution.
 
With 2 screens, you will have to experiment with how you want to position them. I find that my 27 inch monitors are too wide to put flat side by side without giving neck strain. Most people either tilt the 2 screens together in a V shape (as in the picture above) or have one screen at an angle to the main screen. On my Mac I generally prefer the second option with a 'main' screen directly infront of me and an angled second screen to the left, where I 'park' windows not currently in use.
 


 
R-Comp are very clear that dual head display is a work in progress. The !DualHead application is polished and runs well but does impose a number of restrictions on current use.
 
Firstly, I found I could not change the layout. My right hand monitor is always plugged into the second port (right port on the back of the machine looking at it from the back).
 
There are also different ways to handle multiscreens. On my Mac, the screens can also be separate displays (with a separate task bar on each) and you can arrange one screen under the other. On RISC OS, we have a single screen which is extended across multiple monitors. There are pros and cons to both.
 
!DualHead also requires the screens to run at the same resolution. You can run two different sized monitors. I tried replacing one of my 27inch monitors with an old 20inch monitor. This requires both monitors to run at the same resolution of 1600 x 1200. The results look stretched on one screen.
 


 
Different size monitors are an issue with all dual display systems. On my Mac I always use 2 identical 27 inch monitors. Moving screens between different resolutions is not ideal as you have to keep resizing them.
 
Quibbles aside, !DualHead is a really nice release and brings RISC OS firmly into the world of dual screen output. It will also allow developers to start adapting their software to make use of it. I tried !Paint and as expected a screenshot of the whole screen creates a sprite containing both displays.
 
This is an excellent first release (following on the heels of 5.23 RISC OS release) and I look forward to seeing what R-Comp have for us at the London Show...
 
  !DualHead in use
  nytrex (01:15 11/9/2017)
  jimnagel (14:57 14/9/2017)
    arawnsley (20:31 14/9/2017)
      riscosbits (22:38 14/9/2017)
      Elesar (08:28 15/9/2017)
        riscosbits (09:43 15/9/2017)
 
Alan Robertson Message #124149, posted by nytrex at 01:15, 11/9/2017
Member
Posts: 26
Having multiple screens for RISC OS must make a huge difference in usability. I can't imagine just using one screen on my Windows machine anymore.

Great to see developments like this.
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Jim Nagel Message #124152, posted by jimnagel at 14:57, 14/9/2017, in reply to message #124149
Member
Posts: 6
What happens when an error box pops up? It would normally be in the middle of the screen, so does it fall at the borderline between the dual screens?
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #124153, posted by arawnsley at 20:31, 14/9/2017, in reply to message #124152
R-Comp chap
Posts: 465
That is the downside, Jim, with many dual-monitor setups (certainly those that present as one big desktop) unless software/OS is specifically designed to deal with it. In fact, it is why I recommended triple-monitor setups for VRPC-multimonitor in various demos.

That said, there's no "loss" of information - the error box just appears across both screens, with the mouse pointer restricted as necessary, so it isn't a big deal.

There are pros and cons to both approaches - one big screen (eg. 3440x1440) on ARMX6 or dual monitor on TiMachine. For a start, two smaller monitors are cheaper than one 34" ultra-wide. As long as you use thin-bezel monitors, it shouldn't be a big issue. On the flip side, one big monitor is probably simpler for RISC OS .
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RISCOS Bits Message #124154, posted by riscosbits at 22:38, 14/9/2017, in reply to message #124153
Member
Posts: 5
It's not quite as clear as that (pun intended)!

I've managed to get my 34" AOC monitor to display the Titanium at 3440x1440. I achieved this using Elesar's dual headed mode with a resolution of 1720x1440, using Picture By Picture mode.

I'd previously used this resolution over VNC, ironically from an ARMx6, but could only manage 4096 colours at a reasonable screen update rate.

However, using two inputs into the same monitor at the same time, and then employing the monitor's Picture By Picture mode, I have a native 3440x1440 display direct from the Titanium. It will do a semi-native 2560x1080, a disproportioned 4096x2048 - the maximum the Titanium can do - or an aspect-retained 4096x1715. Because the Picture By Picture mode effectively removes the central "bezel" from the image, it just looks like a single monitor image, and operates in exactly the same way as my ARMx6 at 3440x1440. Thus error message boxes aren't split.

The only real caveat is it needed a DVI-DisplayPort converter cable, as my AOC monitor can only handle a 1080 vertical resolution over DVI - other monitors may be able to cope with 1720x1440 without the adaptor. Don't be fooled (as I was) into buying a passive DP-DVI adaptor as they can only convert DP signal from the graphics output, to DVI monitor input and that's of no use in this scenario. I ended up using a Lindy 3m active DVI to DP converter, which also draws power at the DVI/Titanium end from a USB port. And this costs marginally more than a Raspberry Pi, which can do the same resolution without any extras! But isn't anywhere near as fast as the Titanium.

Titanium at 3440x1440 can be achieved using Andrew's !DualHead or Elesar's prototype dual head driver. !DualHead is obviously easier, but isn't necessary.

I have to say I'm very impressed, running the Titanium at 3440x1440 with the option of 4096x1715 - it's now my main RISC OS machine.



[Edited by riscosbits at 10:40, 15/9/2017]
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Robert Sprowson Message #124155, posted by Elesar at 08:28, 15/9/2017, in reply to message #124153
Member
Posts: 6
That said, there's no "loss" of information - the error box just appears across both screens, with the mouse pointer restricted as necessary, so it isn't a big deal.
In principle !DualHead could be extended to add a Wimp filter that spots windows trying to open centred, and move them to the left (or right).

Ultimately that's what RISC OS should do, either by having a nominated "primary" head on which notifications like error boxes always appear, or by picking the one where the mouse currently is - since that's probably where your eyeballs are.

However, using two inputs into the same monitor at the same time, and then employing the monitor's Picture By Picture mode, I have a native 3440x1440 display direct from the Titanium.
Dell sell a quad picture by picture monster https://www.engadget.com/2016/05/23/dell-43-inch-quad-monitor/ though 43" may require buying a bigger house first!
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RISCOS Bits Message #124157, posted by riscosbits at 09:43, 15/9/2017, in reply to message #124155
Member
Posts: 5
In principle !DualHead could be extended to add a Wimp filter that spots windows trying to open centred, and move them to the left (or right).

Ultimately that's what RISC OS should do, either by having a nominated "primary" head on which notifications like error boxes always appear, or by picking the one where the mouse currently is - since that's probably where your eyeballs are.
I really like the "where your eyeballs are" idea, but would prefer an option to not do that, in my "one screen" situation.

Dell sell a quad picture by picture monster https://www.engadget.com/2016/05/23/dell-43-inch-quad-monitor/ though 43" may require buying a bigger house first!
And a bit added on to the mortgage!
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The Icon Bar: News and features: !DualHead in use