Long time user of Ubuntu struggling to use Unity here....

I am running Unity 2D and can click on the workspace launcher icon to switch to a different workspace. However if I just walk up to a system, how can I tell by looking what workspace I am on?

Is the launcher icon supposed to change when you change workspace? Is there an indicator applet for this I can install? I am used to the old Gnome workspace switcher in the middle of the top panel!



This functionality is now inbuilt within 13.04 and later - the launcher workspace icon shows which workspace you are currently on:



12.10 and previous

enter image description here


To do this, first install the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:geod/ppa-geod

Update and install:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-workspaces

12.04 onwards

The PPA author does not have a preprepared package for 12.04 and later. However, you can download the same deb-package used in 11.10 and install that.

Download the v0.6.2.2 deb package

Install the prerequisite:

sudo apt-get install python-wnck

how to start

Finally add indicator-workspaces to your startup-applications (search in Dash for this) if the installation hasn't already added this:

enter image description here

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  • 1
    Thanks for your help on this. Ridiculous this isn't built in! – HDave Nov 8 '11 at 19:42
  • nitpicking: we nowadays have 1 workspace and the 4 'parts' are viewports. askubuntu.com/questions/44102/… – Rinzwind Mar 19 '13 at 15:41
  • In 12.10 with Unity the auto-start does not work, but the proggie can be started from the command line 'indicator-workspace', after which it works fine and interacts well with the workspace selector in the Launcher bar. Unfortunately it is not possible to name the workspaces. – user143211 Mar 25 '13 at 8:23
  • This also fails if you have compiz cube rotate on or other special effects. – HDave Mar 21 '14 at 14:54
  • Working on 14.04 (installed the deb package)! – Gauthier Jun 12 '14 at 9:41

Ubunutu 14.10 (Based off of fossfreedom's answer, sorry I need more rep to comment)

  1. sudo apt-get install python-wnck
  2. sudo apt-get install python-appindicator
  3. wget http://ppa.launchpad.net/geod/ppa-geod/ubuntu/pool/main/i/indicator-workspaces/indicator-workspaces_0.6.2.2_all.deb
  4. sudo dpkg -i ./indicator-workspaces_0.6.2.2_all.deb
  5. indicator-workspaces & disown
  6. (Add to startup as fossfreedom mentions above)
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  • Why is this even needed? Because of Unity2D? I am using Ubuntu 14.04 with regular Unity and the workspace indicator shows on my launcher bar with no further action required, once I've enabled workspaces (Settings->Appearance->Behavior). – Lambart Mar 31 '15 at 18:38
  • Yeah I had that on my launcher but it didn't work for my use case. It displayed 2x2 but I use 1x5. The simple number display works much better for me. – Anthony Astige Apr 1 '15 at 21:25
  • 5 workspaces, wow! You must be a master multitasker. :) – Lambart Apr 1 '15 at 22:57
  • Yeah I don't often use all 5 extensively, but when I need them it's really helpful :P I made the convention of 5 a long time ago when I think I was using compiz's "cube". I found the uneven number easier to recall spatially, and stuck with it through different systems. I'll I often 'backburner' my entire work-space when urgent items come up, and sometimes those emergencies will layer one on top of another. – Anthony Astige Apr 3 '15 at 0:59

If you do download the latest version from http://ppa.launchpad.net/geod/ppa-geod/ubuntu/pool/main/i/indicator-workspaces/ make sure you grab the required wnck libs/bindings in synaptic or the software center. Otherwise this indicator will not work.

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Ubuntu's Unity desktop uses viewports , not workspaces, which is a coordinate-based system.

To know current viewport , you can bind the following set of commands (or place them into a script and bind that ) to a keyboard shortcut:

xprop -root -notype _NET_DESKTOP_VIEWPORT  | awk -F '=' '{ print "Current Viewport:"$2  }' | xargs -I {} notify-send {}

enter image description here

That way you can invoke an on-screen notification to report where are you on the grid right now.

Personally, because I spend 99% of time between firefox and terminal, I've all those commands , set into a function in my .bashrc

  xprop -root -notype _NET_DESKTOP_VIEWPORT  | \
      awk -F '=' '{ print "Current Viewport:"$2  }' | \
      xargs -I {} notify-send {}
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