Multitouch with Kernel 2.6.30

Jun 16, 2009

Linux and multitouch input also work without X.org and with help from the new Kernel 2.6.30. Three French students show how it's done.

Mohamed-Ikbel Boulabiar, Stephane Chatty and Sebastien Hamdani of the Interactive Computing Lab of the French Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse have demonstrated that Linux can transform into a multitouch system with the help of the new kernel. A patch by kernel developer Henrik Rydberg for the Linux input system makes it possible.

A demo video on the project webpage shows how it looks in practice: what you need is a computer with surfaces from Broadcom 5974, Stantum, NTrig or DiamondTouch, Kernel 2.6.30 and Compiz with a DBus plugin. To rotate or scale windows, you also need the Freewins plugin. The demo reads input directly from the /dev/input/eventX device file. X Server plays absolutely no role at this point.

As the developers report, we're talking about a simple prototype. However, they hope that the adapted touchscreen drivers will land in Kernel 2.6.31. The demo also brings up the question whether X.org might improve handling of multitouch kernel events. The demo code and Stantum multitouch tablet driver and NTrig multitouch screen driver sources are available off the webpage.

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