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Since Ubuntu 11.10, it is really difficult to get multiple workspaces like Ubuntu 10.04.

For example:
When I wanted to open a new Firefox window, I just had to go to the next workspace and hit the Firefox icon.

With Unity, this isn't possible anymore. When I hit the icon, it goes back to the original Firefox window. I know it is possible to use GNOME Classic, but this doesn't work very well and is not stable.

How can I achieve this?

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You rely on a couple of flawed assumptions. First; it is not obvious that Mark Shuttleworth makes all these decisions. I hardly believe Ubuntu would've become such a success if he was a one-man show. It is a collective effort. Also, you assume that "this really handy function" has been thrown away. It hasn't.

Ok, now let's look at your question. It seems to be about how to launch a new instance of Firefox when there's already one running. Easy; middle-click it. Or if you use keyboard shortcuts, append Shift. For instance, if Firefox is number two on your launcher, press Super+Shift+2 to launch a new instance. You can then use Super+BAT (button above tab) to switch between Firefox instances, and you'll be moved to the correct desktop if they're on different ones. It will remember the window order, so you will also be able to use Alt+Tab to switch between the most recently used instances per application.

The cube and other Compiz effects are still available. Unity itself is a Compiz plugin, so none of those options have been removed.

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Thanks for your answer. The problem is, that my laptop doesn't have a middle mouse button (3finger tab doesn't work either). Also the combination shift+click doesn't seem to work for me. – Daan Feb 4 '12 at 11:51
@Daan Jo-Erlend Schinstad's suggestion only uses the keyboard. Please take another look. – Christopher Kyle Horton Feb 4 '12 at 12:16
@WarriorIng64: no, it didn't: "Easy; middle-click it.". Daan: Pressing the left and right buttons simultaneously will usually simulate the third button. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Feb 4 '12 at 16:23
The shift-key is used to open a new instance when using keyboard shortcuts. I believe it should do that when clicking on the launcher entries as well. I'd file a bug, if I were you. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Feb 4 '12 at 16:25
@Jo-ErlendSchinstad Whoops, guess I missed that part...somehow. Anyways, I learned a new way to simulate middle click now...thanks! – Christopher Kyle Horton Feb 4 '12 at 16:40

Click the icon with the middle mouse button to open a new window instead of going to the old one.

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This is a valid answer, but some machine's like the OP's laptop don't have a middle mouse button (as indicated in a comment to this answer). – Christopher Kyle Horton Feb 4 '12 at 12:18
On a touchpad tapping on the upper right corner should work as a middle click – Florian Diesch Feb 4 '12 at 13:20
Yep, that works, and I didn't know about it until you mentioned it. Thanks for pointing that out! – Christopher Kyle Horton Feb 4 '12 at 16:41

Another solution is to Right-Click the icon in Launcher and select "Open a New Window".

I've tested in 12.04 and it does not switch workspaces, even if the current Firefox is in another workspace, and you right-click its icon, workspace will not switch. And your new window will be opened in your current workspace.

The only con of this approach is that not all applications have this "New ..." option in their right-click menu. But thankfully there is for, just to name a few:

  • Firefox
  • Nautilus
  • Gedit
  • Terminal

Which, for me, easily cover > 95% of the applications I want to open multiple windows.

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