Mon, 30 May 2005

My New Tablet PC..

So, for various reasons, I've moved from my trusty old Toshiba TE2000 to a much smaller, and cooler, HP TC1100 Tablet PC. Basically the Toshy decided to croak it (whilst at LCA2005.. *mutter*) - turns out the connector between the internal power board and the motherboard was damaged. In the hope that it would be useful to one of my co-organisers for LCA2006, it is now repaired and in his possesion. Anyway, I digress...

So, it's pretty slick device, and I've spent an amount of time over the last 5 days getting all the neat bits of hardware working with a fresh Debian install (I just couldn't do the Ubuntu thing, it feels too much like two-timing). Everything, bar the little digitizer 'pad button' things, is working, including the lovely little SmartLink WinModem (haven't tested it yet, but I can talk to it with minicom).

For those that are clever, they'll recognise it as the Tablet that both Bdale and Edale^W, er.. Elizabeth were using at LCA2005. Bdale mentioned to me that he couldn't seem to get both the digitizer and accelerated graphics (via the official nvidia driver) to work together. I now wonder what problem he was having, as I didn't do anything special and it's working fine. I was worried though as I had it working well under the nv driver, but to get rotation working with xrandr I had to change to the nvidia driver. So, now Elizabeth will be jealous - I can now happily play tuxracer, and design new courses with the digitizer under gimp without restarting X :) .

I mentioned xrandr, because you can't use a tablet and not have the ability to flip around into "portrait" mode and use it as a tablet is meant to be used! After some fiddling, it was correctly rotating.. sadly, the X wacom driver didn't have the ability to rotate whilst X was running - you could happily add the "Rotate" option to the InputDevice entry in xorg.conf (yeah, XFree86 sucks, ok?), but that would require an X restart. The effect is somewhat disturbing when you attempt to use the stylus on the rotated screen.. :)

A little hunting uncovered this patch which appears to solve my problem. After downloading dilinger's Xorg source package, I was able to patch a recent linuxwacom driver, and slip it into the package build instead of the older version of the module there (If anyone would like a copy of my wacom_drv.o, email me). I also needed to build an updated xsetwacom that knew about the newly available 'rotate-while-running' feature.

After all that, I now have a 3D accelerated display with a working stylus, that can be easily rotated to a portrait mode with these two commands:

xrandr -o left
xsetwacom set "Wacom Stylus" Rotate CCW

So, some software to top things off. This chap wrote a nice little perl tool called tabatha that does a nice job of providing a little menu that you can access via the side buttons on the tablet (I use hotkeys for this, after mapping the keys to unused keycodes with setkeycodes somewhere in /etc/init.d). But, he really should have worked out that sudo would be a better tool to use within the config than making you run it as root. It appears I'm going to have to package this particular tool...

For Stylus input, I'm using both xvkbd and xstroke, the latter of which it appears I'll have to package too. And finally, a useful looking tool that works really well, and I'm so far enjoying immensely, is gournal (Which will be the third new package I have to churn out). Gournal is a note taking application that looks like it supports a networked collaborative mode, and also saves into a useful format - svg.

Well, that's enough boring detail for now - I guess at some stage I'll have to note down all the gory details on a webpage for future reference and for others to look at.. But I should be doing some work :)

[04:49] [/Hacking] [permanent link]