Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Growing Linux Multi-touch Community


There has been a lot happening with the intersection of the Linux and HCI communities of late; it seems that the Linux community is getting more and more involved in not just multi-touch, but human computer interaction as well. It's not just for researchers anymore :-)

X.org

The X.org recently held XDS in Toulouse, France and by all accounts it was absolutely fabulous. I hear folks had some great discussions a day or two prior to the event and hope we get to hear about those :-) I'm watching Peter's blog for an update and hope that Chase will do the same when he gets back from Taiwan.

Point-of-Sale

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to hear from Gene Mosher (inventor of touchscreen point-of-sale) on the multi-touch mail list. We had a good conversation about his use case and I am really looking forward to checking out the work he's done.

Community Support

Folks have been popping into IRC (#ubuntu-touch on Freenode) on a more regular basis, asking everything from beginners' questions to exploring deeply involved technical issues. Fabián Rodríguez has been helping out with community support, as have the core developers. In combination, the team is able to get most folks up and running, sometimes even with non-supported hardware. (Oh hell, they're gonna hate me for saying that publicly! Here comes the flood...)

PyMT, Qt, and GTK

Of particular note, we've been having really amazing interactions with PyMT and Qt folks, and it's great to see those relationships growing. Mathieu Virbel of PyMT has done some fantastic work on adding Python support to mtdev and is currently running PyMT on those bindings. Christopher Denter (another PyMT-er) has shared some really great stuff about Movid, a project he co-founded and one that we're keeping a close eye on.

On the Qt side of the house, Denis Dzyubenko and Zeno Albisser have been making great strides in MT development. Originally working on the gestures API for QT, Denis has recently taken over for Bradley Hughes on the multi-touch support in Qt. Zeno is a project lead for improving the gesture API. Stephen Webb from the DX multi-touch team will be working with them closely in the coming cycle.

Cody Russell has started chatting with Carlos Garnacho, Ryan Lortie, and others in the GTK community about getting full support of MT in GTK (continuing on Carlos' excellent work). These conversations are expected to ramp up at GTK Hackfest in Spain, and continue at UDS in Orlando, FL. With most of Cody's Maverick work done now, he's been able to pick up some prototyping he did last month and run with it some more. I can't wait to see the results :-)

Ubuntu on the Phone?!

And for dessert, I have saved this amazing bit of info: we recently received an email on the multi-touch list from Lukas-David Gorris who is working on the HTC Linux project. It turns out, he is running Maverick on the HTC HD2 (Leo) and is testing the uTouch framework with this device. Henrik Rydberg is helping him debug issues in his spare time. We were completely stunned to not only to hear about Maverick running on an HTC, but attempts to use uTouch on it!

The HTC Linux project looks really awesome. I hope they get more community interest, as this is the sort of project that gives Linux its power base: development and support from the community that large companies rarely invest in themselves. HTC Linux is a major step towards the prevalence of Linux on phones.

Though not Ubuntu, this is also a perfect time to mention MeeGo: another effort being made with the Linux community, and a rare exception to the "rule" of big companies not putting their money on the line. MeeGo is a joint effort between Nokia and Intel to produce a Linux distro for phones (and other devices). MeeGo has a focused touch effort, as well (I'm subscribed to the mail list).

This is a huge boon to Linux, and like the HTC Linux project, very, very cool stuff.


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