Introduction (Intel Rocks!)

Last Wednesday I attended the Intel AppUp Developer Day, a workshop where Intel employees presented the MeeGo stack and introduced Intel AppUp, a software center which will be shipping in netbooks/tablets/carputers/etc. There was also a live demo on how to design interfaces with QML and one of the Angry Birds creator said some words. Best of all, Intel was nice enough to give every participant a tablet!

MeeGo (really alpha!)

The ExoPC Slate came with Intel's new tablet version of MeeGo, which like its netbook counterpart seems to place great emphasis on social and multimedia uses, but it better suited for the touch screen. The system is still pre-alpha, though, and when I tried to use it lots of stuff failed to work. Asking about it at the MeeGo pavilion I was told to re-install the image, which solved some of the problems. Still, I don't really see myself using it at this point, so I decided to also put Ubuntu on it.

Installing Ubuntu

The installation went smooth; I got a message about the bootloader not being able to be installed, but I just ignored it and had no problems. I had already left half of the 64GB SSD empty when installing MeeGo, since it uses brtfs which Ubuntu can't resize yet. Of course, I had to plug in mouse and keyboard (I used a USB hub, since the tablet only has two USB ports and one is required for the installation media). Boot is somewhat slower than what I'd expect for an SSD, and sometimes shows some weird error messages which seem to have no effect.

One outstanding problem is that GRUB doesn't support the touch screen (and for that matter neither does it recognize my wireless keyboard), so if I want to change between Ubuntu and MeeGo I have to plug in a normal USB keyboard.

Getting the touch-screen to work (no multi-touch :()

The touch-screen didn't work out of the box either but required some fiddling. Basically, I had to open /etc/default/boot and change «GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"» to «GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash usbhid.quirks=0xeef:0x72a1:0x40"» and run «sudo update-grub», otherwise touching the screen would invariably send the pointer to the top-left. And basically, that's it, now it's working using the free drivers!

However, the free drivers only support a single finger. There's also the option of using the proprietary hid_egalax driver, which is supposed to correctly support tracking two fingers (and it does in MeeGo), but I didn't have so much luck in Ubuntu and functionally I don't really see a difference between them. To install it I downloaded the eGalaxTouch tarball: eGalaxTouch-3.04.4912-32b-k26.tar.gz. Then uncompressed the file, executed the setup script and restarted the computer. This time the result wasn't so nice, since in addition to still not doing any multi-touch, the pointer was showing up in the wrong place and somehow now the touch-screen device shows up four times. The pointer problem was easy to fix, though, by running XXXX and calibrating the four "devices", so this basically left me just how I was with the free drivers.

Since with a single finger I have no way of triggering a right-click, I enabled the "secondary click when pressing primary button" accessibility option in the mouse preferences.

Final touch (pun intended?)

For typing I've installed "matchbox-keyboard" and placed a launcher for it in the top panel. Suggestions on better alternatives are welcome (especially if they show up automatically when I focus a text box).

Now something I could do to at least get a little bit of coolness factor is enabling single-finger scroll support in Chromium, by installing the chromeTouch extension (apparently there is also a similar extension for Firefox).

Finally, I disabled the key-binding for "open music player", since by default the Slate's touch hot-key had been assigned to it and it kept opening Rhythmbox every time I accidentally went over the hot-key.


To wrap up this post, here's some random pages which helped me on my way here: