Saturday, June 7, 2008

Eee PCs and Tablets and remote X11! Oh, My!

One thing that has slowed down some of my Inkscape development has been that Hardy is not happy with my tablet on the laptop I usually use. It worked fine when I booted up from CD, but fails once I install and run from hard drive. I had been waiting to see if the last few rounds of beta updates would fix it, or if I could give any helpful testing feedback. Alas, it was not to be. So on OS X there is no extended input from my tablet working for X11 apps, and on Ubuntu the tablet doesn't even work as a plain mouse. That, of course, means I can't work on things like pressure sensitive behavior, extended device configuration, etc.

However... this week I thought of something. The tablet is USB after all, and I do have a second little computer with USB, so perhaps that could be used to help some how. I did a quick search on the Eee PC's filesystem and found it had wacom drivers already. A few quick minutes hacking away on xorg.conf files and it actually worked! The tiny computer was running happily with my tablet.

Of course, I then hit the big problem that it *is* a tiny computer, and I don't have a workflow to get custom things compiled and installed yet (keeping it stock for now). But then the UNIX world came to save me with remote X11! Just toss in ssh and a little X11 forwarding and voila! the Eee PC is displaying the application and running keyboard, mouse, and tablet input, while the program itself is actually running on a different computer.

I had done a few test runs with ssh to my laptop from the Eee PC in the past, so I tried again. Well, the connection and all worked, but the version of GTK+ on there did not have extended input support compiled in. So even though the X11 front end running supports it, the application didn't listen to the X11 server. Off to another computer then! Tried it with ssh to run the app from an Ubuntu 7.10 box and it worked!!!

Of course I still want to use the laptop, so I ended up using ssh there too. So the development (Emacs), compiling and running is all done on a Linux box in another room, but my editor/IDE is displayed here on the laptop and the app I'm building and running is displaying on the Eee PC. Kinda kludgey, but it works.

And then finally the size of the Eee PC in relation to the tablet is something I find quite amusing. The poor little PC is basically dwarfed by the Wacom. Literally it is only as big as the active area on the tablet itself.

What makes it even sadder is that the Eee PC is pretty good for travel and presentations, so I'll now be stuck with toting around the ridiculous pair.


Tina@ SendChocolateNow said...

But it's cuuuuuuute! ::insert squee here::

flaviocpontes said...

hehe. Nice.
I got my intuos3 working fine in hardy. If you follow the X part in the openwacom page, it should work fine. If you need a hand, just mail me. I'll send you my xorg.conf.

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