Prevent full-screen games from minimizing when switching workspaces

When I play games on my Ubuntu desktop, I like to switch workspaces a lot. For example, when waiting for respawn I will quickly switch to a second workspace to select a different music track, or to write a quick reply on IM. What I find very inconvenient is that a lot of games, by default, will minimize when I switch workspace. Because of that, it takes me more time to return to game – a workspace switch short-cut, and then alt+tab.

It turns out that this is SDL feature, so all games build with SDL will behave this way. However, there is an easy, little known way to disable it. Simply set the following enviromental variable


before starting your game. Or, if you dislike this feature as much as I do, you may want to set that variable in your .profile file, or maybe even /etc/environment.

Enjoy flawless workspace switching when gaming!