DIGImend makes low-budget graphic tablets just work on Linux
There are quite a few graphic tablet vendors living in the shade of Wacom. Their devices never had a great support on Linux, if any. But it's about to change.
The project called DIGImend (digitizer mending) was started by Nick (Nikolai) Kondrashov around 2008 to improve the sorry state of affairs with drivers for, er, more affordable graphic tablets such as the ones by Genius, Aiptek etc.
Much like the Linux Wacom project, DIGImend has been seeing a growth of activity lately, even though Nick used to be combating the issue singlehandedly until David "Favux" Foley joined him fairly recently.
Nick, what's up with the project? Are we going to see any sort of breakthrough in Linux 3.4 with regards to graphic tablets?
Lately we've been improving our interaction with the world, so we replaced the old page with a wiki where we now publish up-to-date information on supported devices, drafts of HOWTOs on xf86-input-evdev and xf86-input-wacom configuration and suchlike. We also started a blog.
As for the v3.4 of the Linux kernel, it's going to support the following new devices:
- Genius EasyPen i405X and M610X;
- Genius MousePen i608X;
- Aiptek HyperPen Mini, NGS Flexi Style, VisTablet PenPad, iVistaTablet Q Flex Pad, Bravod Q-PD65-S, Trust Flex Design Tablet;
- Genius G-Pen F509, Manhattan 177405.
You can actually download the patches and backport them for earlier versions of the kernel. We just haven't published the patches separately. You can have a look at our wiki if you want the links to the relevant commits.
Around February I also sent a patch to Jiri Kosina. The patch makes it possible to load out-of-tree HID drivers. In other words, you'd be able to build and install drivers for graphic tablets without recompiling the whole kernel.
This would also make it possible to make a DKMS bundle of drivers that won't require manual build at all, just installation via your package manager. Jiri hasn't approved that patch yet, though.
What do you work on currently?
Right now I'm busy programming a driver for Waltop Sirius Battery Free Tablet (VisTablet Muse, Princeton PTB-S1BK) which will probably also make it to Linux 3.4.
Waltop Sirius Battery Free Tablet
By the way, it's the first tablet of non-Wacom origin that measures and reports stylus tilt; and the stylus doesn't need a battery. I guess it just uses the very same technology that Wacom does.
Edit: as of publishing the interview patches that add support for Waltop Sirius Battery Free Tablet have already been applied to upstream Linux kernel.
What can you say about the existing Hanvon drivers for Linux? Do you think they could be merged?
Well, all I know is that someone already took care of Hanvon, so I didn't really bother to investigate much beyond that.
Hanvon Artmaster 0806
Maybe it'd make sense to get in touch with the person who wrote those drivers, but I'm not yet sure if either of us would benefit from a collaboration. I'll think about it.
What about configuration of the tablets that your project cares about?
All the tablets that we support should work just fine with xf86-input-evdev. However xf86-input-evdev doesn't really provide a lot of configurable options. For instance it doesn't allow configuring response curves which, as far as I can tell, is the most anticipated feature. At least it's #1 priority among other configurable options for me to implement.
However I haven't yet made up my mind what would be the best way to solve the issue. I could patch xf86-input-wacom or xf86-input-evdev or both.
Some of the tablets by Waltop can use the xf86-input-wacom driver, even though I haven't tested that myself yet. Actually, X will try to use xf86-input-wacom for Waltop tablets by default, so if it doesn't work, you can either fix the configuration or just remove the driver. Our HOWTO covers that use case in more details.
We have some plans regarding support for more “simple” graphic tablets in the xf86-input-wacom and we are thinking about introducing more configurable settings to the xf86-input-evdev driver. I just can't tell at the moment when that is likely to happen.
So you prefer to finish drivers first and create configuration tools later?
Lately I've been leaning towards the idea of doing both at the same time. New models hit the shelves all the time, and I catch myself thinking “Oh, that'd be the last kernel driver I do for now, and then I could switch to programming drivers for X.org”.
Wacom configuration tool from GNOME 3.4
It makes a lot of sense, because otherwise using such a graphic tablet would be next to impossible. Yet extending the core feature set is a must, and it's not as if I had a lot of spare time.
So I think I'll finish this Waltop Sirius driver and then start working on features. Actually, I might do it even earlier, since the tablet is a bugger to write drivers for, and it's likely to take longer than I expected anyway.
What kind of relationships do you have with vendors?
In January I tried contacting KYE (Genius), Waltop and UC-Logic to ask them for either hardware or specs (or both). But, you see, I used the formal Contacts form on their websites which is never a good idea :)
Nevertheless Waltop replied and already sent me Media Tablet 10.6" and Sirius Battery Free Tablet. That really helped, I'm grateful for that. I'll keep trying to contact KYE and UC-Logic.
How can we help you?
We need more users to be aware of the project and send us information about devices they have that don't work on Linux. You can mail me privately at email@example.com.