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I have the following setup on my home. I would like to be able to use the Ubuntu on dual-screen mode while my Windows machine is on idle. I am looking for the best way to set this up...

1) Each monitor has both AGP and DVI connections. Only PC1 has to different outputs for the videocard

2) I can connect the Ubuntu PC to the second monitor using DVI cable and AGP to DVI cable.

My questions are:

1) How do I set this up on the Ubuntu machine?

2) Can I set a hot-key to quickly disable the Dual-Mode and be able to see my Windows machine again?

Thank you!


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I'd recommend a hardware switch for your monitors, where you can switch between "One cable to Windows, one to Ubuntu" and "Two cables to Ubuntu" by pressing a button and not physically moving cables. English isn't my primary language so I'm not sure what they are called, but most computer stores should have them available, it's basically just a box with a bunch of VGA/DVI connectors and buttons for different "modes".

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KVM Is the most popular "name" for these hardware you mention, there are wired (based on wiring) and/or swwitched (based on wires and a switch). +1 I vote for this answer – Geppettvs D'Constanzo Jun 23 '12 at 16:59
The monitors already have a VGA/DVI switch, so for a small gain of convenience, you are paying by expense of the switch, mess of extra cables, and possible problems introduced by more failure modes, IMO. I've used them in the past, and the cheaper ones never work reliably. – Marty Fried Jun 23 '12 at 17:30
Convenience went out the window when we decided to assume two separate computers with two separate connectors to two separate screens right next to each other. If I had this problem, I'd choose the best of the two computers and just move over hard drives, memory and everything else usable and use one computer with two screens permanently. – pzkpfw Jun 23 '12 at 17:37
I know what you mean. I run Windows now in VirtualBox, just for Quicken and itunes, mainly; I made the main system an Ubuntu desktop, and the server is Ubuntu, too, so I use ssh, which works well. – Marty Fried Jun 23 '12 at 20:09

I actually have something similar to this for my system, although I now use one as a Ubuntu desktop, and the other is a Ubuntu server - but it used to be Windows.

What I did was to hook the keyboard/mouse through a USB switch. For the video, I connected the dual-monitor system normally, using one monitor on the DVI output, and the other from the VGA output.

I then connected the Ubuntu server to the VGA output of the one monitor using DVI, and I use the monitor's video switch to switch between the two. So, it's possible to see one of the screens of the (formerly) Windows system (until the screensaver kicks in) while using the other monitor for Ubuntu.

Edit: Someone mentioned KVM switches. I've had a couple of these, and found them to be cumbersome and sometimes unreliable. I used them for ps2 keyboard/mouse, and when I moved to USB, instead of buying yet another one, I got a simple USB switch, and use the monitor switching for VGA/DVI. This gives a lot more flexibility (you can actually view one screen while typing on another, which can be useful if you are copying something from one to the other).

Also, decent KVM switches along with all the cables, isn't that cheap, and it's messy.

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Problem with KVM is that it doesn't let you use both systems at the same time which is very importent option I would like to preserve! – Daemon Jun 23 '12 at 17:34
@Daemon, Marty Fried answer doesn't rely on the KVM switch, but on the monitor's video switch. – Zuul Jun 23 '12 at 17:38
By saying "monitor's video switch" you mean the actual button on the monitor? Is it possible to use a hotkey on the Ubuntu to disable the dual-mode instead? – Daemon Jun 23 '12 at 18:24
I don't know of any way to use a hot-key; that was one advantage of most KVM switches, although they weren't 100% reliable. I personally never really needed to switch so much and so fast; I mainly used one system, and occasionally switched to the server - which I rarely do now, because I've learned to use ssh for pretty much everything on the server. – Marty Fried Jun 23 '12 at 20:06
I believe it might be possible using a bash script for xrandr.. I'll have to try – Daemon Jun 23 '12 at 20:44

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