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Semiformalishmaybe

Tablet

Drawing LCD-Tablet has arrived.

Getting it working with Linux was, as I expected, fairly painful.

Sources of pain:

  • My laptop does not have the video RAM to do anything but mirroring (which interacts badly with pen/lcd positioning) unless I turn off the laptop's LCD while using it.
  • The wacom devices want to know in xorg.conf where in USB-land to find the device (/dev/input/blahblah), which is unfortunately dynamically managed on linux. I hope this means I won't have to tweak my xorg.conf and restart X whenever I want to use it
  • There are a lot of other things that need entries in xorg.conf
I have come to accept a certain amount of dynamic behaviour on Linux (because I have to if I want to use nice things like USB mice). I hate losing the ability to configure them well, and I really hate trying to glue dynamic stuff into static stuff (I suppose I could write something to listen to dbus events/syslog/etc to rewrite my x.org, but that'd be stupid).

Upside: apart from very mild absolute cursor drift issues, it works. The pressure sensitivity is fantastic to behold, uncalibrated though it is. Tonight's oyschlisn (not up yet) will probably be done with it.

I should probably upgrade to Fedora10 beta before working too much on configuring it - the newer version of X (and linuxwacom) in it might automatically handle some of the above junk.

I'll provide pictures when I get this thing home. Thoughts on the device:

  • It is very small and light, but comes with a truly absurd number of cables and adapters. I would feel kind of odd bringing it to a coffeeshop (but will do so anyhow, I think - someone who occasionally carries 3 laptops is not deterred by such things).
  • Display quality is quite good. It's brighter than my laptop - crisper too
  • The pen is big - it'll take some getting used to. It also has lots of knobs that I'll need to tell GIMP about (should probably upgrade to 2.6 before I do this)
  • The stand it's attached to is nice
  • The "converter box" is awkward

Little tech rant:While more automaticness is sometimes needed in Linux, I absolutely loathe software that listens to network device hardware status and does things based on that. While it is slightly convenient to have it bring up an interface after I plug in a cable, it is absolutely broken and horrible and unacceptable if I accidentally unplug the ethernet cable (or wander out of range) for it to decide that the interface is down, kill dhclient (or logically bring the interface down), and send out a notification over dbus to various pieces of software. If the cable falls out, I would not mind a little notice saying "hey, the cable fell out", but broadcasting it results in applications that really should not be told to do stupid things:

  • Firefox goes into "work offline" mode
  • Pidgin disconnects and gives a blank screen saying "waiting for connection"
  • etc
Sometimes applications really should be stupid, because giving them more flexibility means they inevitably will screw things up. I certainly could live without Gnome NetworkManager. The old margin of system-won't-even-notice safety with unplugged network connections was fine by me (and the "connect automatically" stuff feels risky to me).

Anyone on campus who wants to come by in the next hour or so to see the tablet in action should visit Wean Hall 3502 (my office). After that I'm probably going to the 61c café.

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Comments

My Ubuntu installations come with wacom support built into the xorg.conf, pointing to /dev/input/wacom. I get the impression that it should Just Work, just like my mice do.

On laptops, I like ifplugd detecting whether the ethernet cable is plugged in and controlling dhclient based on that. And considering the bad things that happen when pidgin doesn't know the network is gone, I'd be happy for it to be aware. Firefox isn't such an issue for me since I use Konqueror whenever possible (though unfortunately that's becoming a little less often with modern AJAX stuff).
Let's imagine you shift position at your desk and the cable comes loose (fairly commonplace event for me), or you want to move your laptop and unplugging the network cable for a second seems helpful - would you prefer all that software stuff happen, or just be able to plug it right back in a few seconds later and nothing notices?
As long as everything goes back to normal when things are plugged in again, I'd like the apps to know.

In particular, if I'm IMing with pidgin and the cable comes loose, if pidgin is unaware then I could be typing and nobody's getting the message. XMPP doesn't handle network outages very well.
True - it's not an ideal situation, although losing more stateful things can be pretty painful (my ssh's tend to go away if the network interface goes down, but survive short-ish outages. Yes, yes, I do use screen religiously now, but still...).

If there were more of a way to filter these things (e.g. have it not ifdown the interface or tell any applications about the outage, but *only* tell my gnome-toolbar to tell me), that'd be great. Otherwise we need policy-managers for anything that listens to dbus (maybe not so terrible if it were made easy with standard libraries and all programmers were sensible).
I bet you could hack something in on top of dbus, or into it, to do that filtering. :-)
Oh! I have a /dev/input/wacom too. Looks like somebody needs to update their FAQ. Cool.