Wacom tablets, TabletPC and Xorg support for Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty)

Loïc Martin loic.martin3 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 9 17:09:26 UTC 2008


Since Hardy, Ubuntu doesn't provides any configuration for Wacom tablets
  any more (Gutsy had the lines commented out, but they were there to be
used if necessary). Part of the reason not to provide commented out
lines might have been the abscence of a ServerLayout section in
xorg.conf with new Xorg servers - just uncommenting some lines might
lead to problems.

The move away from xorg.conf makes it really hard for Wacom tablet and
TabletPC users to configure their hardware. Most documentation they find
isn't valid anymore (one of the problem is creating a ServerLayout with
just the lines for the wacom devices, with X failing to start as a
result), and even with up-to-date documentation users have to figure
themselves what device they should configure, make sure they don't mix
lines between serial and USB tablets (most users would imagine their
TabletPC to be USB, which is most often wrong), and not forget the
special line for TabletPC, which is absent from most howto. We still
maintain the documentation at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Wacom,
but when (if) users find it it's often after their install is messed up.

Graphic tablets are getting more common due to cheaper models, and even
if you're not a graphic artist, you'll find Wacom devices in many TabletPC.

With Intrepid, the stylus input is recognised by HAL when the file
10-wacom.fdi is present (comes with xserver-xorg-input-wacom. However,
only the stylus can be configured by this method. No eraser, no pad, no
touch, no cursor.
> Note that the wacom driver doesn't fully support input-hotplug, since 
> currently you need to initialize the driver multiple times to enable 
> stylus/pen/foo, and that's not possible to do with HAL. The wacom fdi file 
> configures the device as stylus..

Traditionnal graphical configuration tools like wacomcpl ("mandatory"
for LCD tablets like TabletPC and Cintiq tablets, it's included in
wacom-tools since Intrepid) don't work anymore since they assume hard
coded device names (stylus, eraser, cursor...) - see

Now to the problem at hand for Jaunty:

Talking about using 3 (or more) different devices for wacom input
(instead of just the stylus like in Intrepid)
On Tue, 30 Sep 2008, Timo Aaltonen wrote:
> It has been confirmed by upstream that what you propose is not possible to 
> do with HAL, but instead the driver should use NewInputDeviceRequest() to 
> accomplish the same. Unfortunately, that'll take some time, but here's 
> hoping that the next six months are enough to have that in time for 
> Jaunty. Someone needs to kick^H^H^H^Hask upstream  :) 

Where upstream means linuxwacom, see
> I was referring to linuxwacom upstream, which should be aware of the problems
> with input-hotplug, but has not done anything about it AFAIK.

I contacted upstream, and their answer can be found at:
Here is an extract:
> Hotplugg is a server-wide issue. It will be resolved for all input devices
> in Xorg, not just for Wacom devices.
>> - does wacomcpl support the fdi method? It doesn't recognise anything on my
>> setup, but it could also be a bug in the Ubuntu version.
> fdi isn't part of linuxwacom project. It belows to Xorg. The distributor, I
> think, will include it once it is ready.
> Ping

So what is Xorg going to do about wacom devices support, and how can we
make sure that, after one year, this support (or a distribution
solution) will at least make it into Jaunty?

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