With the release of KDE 4 a new feature was added that, at first, seemed to be more confusing than anything else. Although the theory behind the idea was simple, the execution made the idea overly complex. The idea was this: You break the desktop up into activities so each desktop is very well defined by what that desktop does. You could have one desktop for writing, one desktop for programming, one desktop for entertainment.
This seemed like a redundancy in Linux, what with the existence of the pager and all. But as KDE grew a bit older and wiser, the usage of this feature become more and more clear. Now, in this Ghacks article I am going to help you to understand exactly why this feature is something you will certainly want to use to keep your desktop as organized as possible.
What this allows
Image this: You have a desktop for each of four activities (We'll just say "A, B, C, and D"). This is simple to break down using the Linux pager. You would have Activity A on Desktop 1, Activity B on Desktop 2, Activity C on Desktop 3, and Activity D on Desktop 4. Now let's say these activities become quite busy. You would then have a lot of windows open on each activity, making a veritable mess out of your efficient workspaces.
Now, take that idea and expand it with KDE Activities. Each Activity now has it's own multi-dimensional workspace. Each Activity has however many workspaces you have defined on your desktop. So if you have four workspaces each of those activities will have four workspaces to use. As well, you can associate specific windows with specific Activities (or specific workspaces within a specific Activity). This allows you to organize your activities with much more control over the standard method.
Confused yet? Let me walk you through the process of creating an Activity, giving the activity a name, and then associating a window to an activity.
Creating an Activity
To create an activity hit Super-Q key combination, which will bring up the Activities manager pane (see Figure 1). From this panel click the New Activity button which will bring up a popup menu. In this popup menu you will have various types and numbers of Activities, depending upon your installation. Let's make this simple, so select "Desktop". This will add a new, standard, desktop activity on your machine. This activity will be named "Unnamed". To rename that activity make sure you have the Activity selected you want to rename right-click the desktop and select Desktop Settings. In this new window select Activity and then give the Activity a new name. Once you have done that, click OK and your Activity will now have the proper name.
Associate windows with Activities
This is where it starts to become obvious how effective activities can be. Let's say you have a desktop Activity associated with Writing. For that activity you use a word processor, a web browser, and some other random applications. To associate those windows with your new Activity right-click the title bar and then click Activities > Writing (Or whatever you have named your new Activity). Now that window will ONLY be visible on that particular activity. You can then open a completely different window (of the same application) and associate with a different activity.
The concept of Activities isn't the easiest to understand until you actually start working with it. But once you get the hang of it, you will certainly appreciate what it brings to the desktop. We go into more depth on the subject of Activities in future articles.