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I like the concept of an activities centric desktop and I wonder if this can be achieved in Unity. For me, an activity is a couple of applications that belong to the same subject, like 'photo manipulation', 'software development', 'office work', 'social activities', 'music and video'. I would like to utilize the virtual desktops to arrange applications that belong to the same activity group.

Example: Desktop 1 contains all applications that belong to 'office work' Desktop 2 contains all applications that I need for 'software development' Desktop 3 contains all applications that I usually need for 'photo works'

Therefore I would like to give names to the virtual desktops that reflect their purpose. And I would like Unity to auto-start the required applications when I start my computer or when I switch to one of the virtual desktops.

Is this possible with Unity (or any other desktop)?

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You can do this with GNOME Shell. There's a extension called Auto Move Windows that allows you to assign specific desktops to any application (sadly it is not automatically, you have to set the configuration up to every app you want to apply the extension).

If you are using Oneiric Ocelot (11.10) you will be using GNOME 3.2, the configuration is really easy. First open the extension folder (if you install it from the link above it should be /home/user/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/ and open extension.js with any text editor (e.g. gedit) and modify APPLICATIONS (line 16) and insert a list of application, workspace pairs, like this: const APPLICATIONS = ['epiphany.desktop:1','evolution.desktop:1','gnome-terminal.desktop:2','empathy.desktop:3','xchat.desktop:3']

For more information about the configuration of the extension you can visit this link.

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This is a nice idea.
If you are planning to have a desktop per activity I think it will be natural to also have a different launcher for each desktop and place/lock on the launcher the applications that belong to the specific activity/desktop.

If you like this idea then assigning a unique launcher for each desktop is discussed in this question.

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After giving several desktops a trial, I found out that I can achieve it with Unity by grouping my apps on different virtual desktops and hibernate the notebook instead of shutting it down. This solves the problem of restarting the apps because of hibernating they will run again after the next boot. Over time you get used to what app is running on which virt. desktop. In case you need an overview, just use the Spread-View (Super+W) or die Expo-View (Super+S). – Ralf Hersel Mar 26 '12 at 21:46

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