Gnome or KDE desktop environments usually have 2 or more virtual desktops enabled by default. Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, and with previous versions, has 4 virtual desktops enabled. Kubuntu with the latest KDE 4 has 2, if I’m not mistaken.
I usually have several applications opened all across these desktops. On virtual desktop 2, for example, I have Rythmbox running for streaming music from my favorite Internet radio stations. At the same time I have Totem movie player opened on desktop 3 for a quick peek on the latest downloaded episodes of my favorite TV series.
While surfing the web I could come across different sites that have video contents or embedded sound media. While Rythmbox is streaming some house music in the background, I might be lured into watching a movie trailer. On another occasion I’d get tired of listening to music or surfing the web, and I just click on desktop 3 where Totem is sitting. It’s nice to watch short TV series episodes like Entourage season 7 or Naruto anime which only runs for about 20 to 30 minutes. Sometimes, while a YouTube movie is loading, I just mute it until it is done before going back to it.
Controlling the volume of each application can be cumbersome when you have all these applications that use the sound system, especially if these are on different desktops. Thankfully, the Gnome sound applet includes a list of running applications that are using the sound system.
Without having to go to the other virtual desktops, you can control the volume of each application. I can have a YouTube clip of the latest Starcraft 2 trailers muted and have it finish loading, while continuing to watch the latest Naruto anime.
What the sound applet could include in the next incarnation of Ubuntu is a list of these applications that uses the sound system right from its indicator applet on the panel. From there, the volume can also be adjusted without having to click on sound preferences and going to the Applications tab. Right now it doesn’t have that as seen in the image above.
This is the default sound applet as it looks now on Lucid Lynx.
OMG! Ubuntu! has featured new developments on the next Ubuntu release dubbed as Maverick Meerkat, including how the sound applet will possibly look like on October later this year. The proposal is actually awesome (see the image below). Volume control on different applications will be a lot easier. What I had in mind was something simpler. No fancy album covers and control buttons. Just a simple list of the application’s name, volume slider and playback control buttons so it doesn’t occupy too much space when you have several applications on the list.
Image courtesy of http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/
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