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Virtual Xinerama

Have you ever wished you could test out ridiculously complex xinerama configurations, but didn’t have the hardware? Well, now you can.

Admittedly, that question isn’t going to be answered in the affirmative by many people, but I bet there are quite a few VMware users who wished that their VMs could run fullscreen and reflect their physical monitor configurations – and you can do that too.

I’ve just checked in support for virtual xinerama in the vmware video driver in Xorg and it will go out with the upcoming 7.2 release. Without additional integration into the actual VMware products (watch this space), you won’t get any automatic reflection of host configuration, but you can still manually configure a topology with a sample tool that I’ve included with the driver source. I’m also procrastinating about implementing support for defining a static configuration in xorg.conf.

You can get the new driver and the sample client from xorg git.

Also, most people probably know that keithp’s all-singing, all-dancing, xrandr++ is just round the corner, so don’t worry, I’ll be adding the driver hooks for that in the near future, which will let me deprecate our custom VMWARE_CTRL extension – but in the meantime, Xinerama support is useful and will continue to remain so (especially considering we want to be able to build a useful driver for older releases of Xorg).

One caveat is that there’s a limitation in existing VMware releases which will cause a crash if your frambuffer grows larger than 16MB. That’s a very large screen, but if you’re messing with xinerama, you’ll be more likely to hit it. As such, xinerama support defaults to off when run on this virtual hardware. You can turn it on from xorg.conf, but keep that limitation in mind.

{ 8 } Comments

  1. glandium | 12th October 2006 at 01:13 | Permalink

    Why bother with vmware while Xnest has xinerama support ?

  2. Philip Langdale | 15th October 2006 at 15:53 | Permalink

    Does it these days? Well, I did say that wasn’t the primary target :-)

  3. bit consumer | 27th October 2006 at 23:32 | Permalink

    Thanks for your work on this. This is the best news I’ve heard all month!
    Not for testing but as a VMWare customer for real day-to-day work this will make a big difference. 2560×1024 mergedFB on the host has been bearable in the guest without Xinerama support, but some sane window placement is going to make life a lot better!

  4. Panu Hällfors | 7th May 2007 at 23:22 | Permalink

    All this sounds very good – thanks for the work!
    Do you have any examples of how to config it?

    I did manage to make X parse my StaticXinerama configs and when looking at the logs, it all seems fine… but the screen that’s displayed is just the same plain old one (just one screen)…

  5. Philip Langdale | 8th May 2007 at 07:00 | Permalink

    Well, the simple way is to get Workstation 6.0 which provides a configuration UI to dynamically change the multihead configuration while X is running in the guest.

    If you use the staticXinerama stuff, then yes, you will just see one big window because it’s completely separate from how Workstation is configured. You’ve got to make workstation fill the heads so that the guest lines up. There’s no easy way to do this unless you’re using ws6.

  6. Panu Hällfors | 9th May 2007 at 10:37 | Permalink

    Thanks for the reply. I’ll look into that one.

  7. Mikhail | 25th July 2011 at 15:19 | Permalink

    Sir, I’m at my wits’ end trying to configure Xorg to use both of the screens connected to my Mac. Using VMware Fusion 3.1.3 all I get is the same picture displayed on both screens (cloned).

    Could you post a xorg.conf, with which you are able to use both of the monitors while inside a guest OS?

  8. Philip Langdale | 26th July 2011 at 18:04 | Permalink

    If you’ve got the VMware tools installed, then if you’re doing multihead on the Mac, when you fullscreen the VM, it will extend over both of your monitors. The only way it could do cloning is if you’re cloning already in OSX. If you’re trying to get a situation where you clone in OSX and do an extended desktop inside the VM, that is not possible. Your question is ultimately best answered in the VMware community forums.

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