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Linux multi-touch technology demo’d

Jun 12, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A development group at ENAC in Toulouse, France, reports that it has developed a proof of concept for adding iPhone-like multi-touch support to the Linux kernel. The group has released a video showing multi-touch effects such as resizing and rotating using Linux 2.6.30.

Based on Henrik Rydberg's recent additions to the Linux input system, and developed in collaboration with the Linux kernel team, the technology is billed as being true native multi-touch support for Linux. It was developed by Mohamed-Ikbel Boulabiar, Stephane Chatty, and Sebastien Hamdani, from the Interactive Computing Lab at the ENAC (Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile) aeronautics academy in Toulouse, France. Their YouTube video demo of the multi-touch code, available at the end of our story, reveals the ability to swipe, flip, rotate, and resize using multiple fingers, as well as a water-ripple effect (pictured below).

Screen from YouTube demo of ENAC multi-touch code, showing ripple effects

In an email, Boulabiar stressed that the code is different than the Multi-Pointer X (MPX) technology being integrated into version 7.5 of the mainline X.Org server. Whereas MPX is a modification to X Window that provides multiple independent pointers (mouse cursors) at the windowing system level for multi-pointer capability, the ENAC code offers true native multi-touch capability, says Boulabiar.

“The video shows multitouch effects that are being supported natively to send ABS_MT_* events from the kernel,” wrote Boulabiar. “When making the demos, I have chosen to use general libraries not related to a WM, to be able to run demos on any Linux platform.” Boulabiar added that he expects the technology to be incorporated into the Google-sponsored Android stack.

According to the project site, the demo code reads input directly from the device file (“/dev/input/eventX”), without “X server involvement in input handling at this stage.” The demo performs simple gesture recognition and then sends D-Bus messages to the Compiz Fusion 3D window manager, to produce special effects. It requires the new Linux 2.6.30 kernel, among other requirements, which are detailed in the download page linked to below.

A video demo of the ENAC multi-touch technology
(click to play)


More information and downloads on the ENAC multi-touch technology may be found here.

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