Configure Digital Pen on Linux

There are many graphics designers, artists and game writers who would love to work on GNU/Linux but may find themselves helpless, because one of the most important devices that enables them to create artwork and illustrations—the digital pen—may or may not work on this operating system. Well, the problem arises because although vendors love to advertise the fact that their devices are compatible with Windows and Mac, they don’t mention anything about GNU/Linux even if it’s supported out of the box. So, the end-user in search of a digital pen has no clue.

I recently bought an iBall pen [WP8060]. I had checked the website and knew that it did not work on GNU/Linux. The only reason I went in for this pen was that iBall’s device was the only product available in Delhi at that point of time. Despite knowing that it did not work on GNU/Linux, I deliberately asked the shopkeeper if it did. He said, “No!” But he got the message that there are GNU/Linux users interested in using this pen. I replied, “Ah, it will work—everything works on GNU/Linux.”

So I got down to work and found that I might have some luck with this device after all. I must mention that the whole credit of this tutorial goes to the fine fellows who developed the drivers and other utility packages, and the bloggers who scribbled down the instructions to use these tools.

I work on Ubuntu 8.10, which will be the target platform for this tutorial. However, other distro users need not worry, as I’ll have to start off by compiling from source.

First off, download the latest Wizardpen driver source [wizardpen-0.7.0-alpha2.tar.gz—I have created a Tiny URL to make it easy for you. You can find the original location in the foot-note to this article.] Uncompress the package after you’re done with downloading:

$ tar -xzvf wizardpen-0.7.0-alpha2.tar.gz

The next step is to compile this source. However, to successfully do that, download and install the following additional packages:

  • xutils
  • libx11-dev
  • libxext-dev
  • build-essential
  • xautomation
  • xinput
  • xserver-xorg-dev

Time to compile the driver now. Change the directory to where you extracted the wizardpen driver–for example, if you’ve extracted it on the ~/Desktop:

$ cd /home/dragon/Desktop/wizardpen-0.7.0-alpha2/

Now, run the following command to compile the driver:

$ ./configure --with-xorg-module-dir=/usr/lib/xorg/modules
$  make && sudo make install

After this, to check whether things have installed successfully or not:

$ ls /usr/lib/xorg/modules/input/wizardpen_drv.*

The above command should give you the following output:

If you see these two lines, congratulations! Your drivers are now installed! However, you’re only half way through.

In order to configure your tablet, you will have to create a new .fdi file in the /etc/hal/fdi/policy directory. But before that we need to know the name of your Tablet pen as recognised by HAL. Plug your Tablet to your machine and then run:

$ grep -i name /proc/bus/input/devices

This should give you an output like this:

N: Name="Macintosh mouse button emulation"
N: Name="AT Translated Set 2 keyboard"
N: Name="Power Button (FF)"
N: Name="Power Button (CM)"
N: Name="PC Speaker"
N: Name="ImPS/2 Generic Wheel Mouse"
N: Name="Tablet PF8060"

Note the last line—this is the name of your Tablet as recognised by the system.

You will now have to create a policy directory for this. Create a file called /etc/hal/fdi/policy/99-x11-wizardpen.fdi with the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
<deviceinfo version=”0.2”>
<!-- Tablet PF8060 -->
<match key="info.product" contains="Tablet PF8060">
<merge key="input.x11_driver" type="string">wizardpen</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.SendCoreEvents" type="string">true</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.TopX" type="string">5619</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.TopY" type="string">6554</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.BottomX" type="string">29405</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.BottomY" type="string">29671</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.MaxX" type="string">29405</merge>
<merge key="input.x11_options.MaxY" type="string">29671</merge>

Make sure you replace “Tablet PF8060″ in line numbers 4 and 5 above with the name of your own tablet.

Time to reboot your system. When you’re back, your GNU/Linux will recognise your Tablet and you should be able to use it with The GIMP to create illustrations—or just use it as a mouse.

I used to sketch a lot in the old days, and the combination of GNU/Linux and GIMP, along with this brand-new Tablet, has brought back the memories and the passion to draw. So, excuse me, as I’ve got to sketch some stuff.

Warning: Things do break down at times.

Slideshow Image:

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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