I'm an open-source hippie. I install Debian on pretty much every
x86/x64 device I come within arms reach of. But I'm also a
delusional artist. So when I had the opportunity to snag a Cintiq
Companion 2 512GB model, I had to take it, but then I also had to
install Debian Linux on it.
The Cintiq's input devices are only very recently supported as of
some patches to the Linux kernel that were submitted...
thread has some details of the in-testing branches of the Linux
Wacom driver to poke at, but hopefully those details will be
irrelevant in the near future, and the Cintiq Companion 2's devices
will "just work" with the driver that's in the kernel, so I won't
talk about it more.
I want to talk about making a tablet PC usable in Linux with no
keyboard. And by "no keyboard" I really mean "only using a keyboard
Let's have a look at some nifty software for getting set up...
- A radial menu tool. I use this so I can hold a button next to
the screen of the tablet, have this radial menu pop up around the
cursor (which is controlled by the stylus), hover over an option,
and let go of the button to activate it. This is how I activate
the on-screen keyboard, GIMP,
and deeper menus for all the normal applications on the system.
Anything I need quick-access to is here.
Onboard - An
on-screen keyboard. Out of all the ones I've used, this one sucks
the least. I first used it in Ubuntu, but it seems to be in Debian
Testing now too.
GIMP, Krita, MyPaint
- I assume you want something to draw with. All these applications
are great. Religious wars rivalling Emacs vs. Vim will be waged
about which one is better.
xsetwacom - This will come with the Linux Wacom driver, but
it's important to mention it here, because we'll be using it a lot.
Xfce - Xfce, the desktop
environment. I know everyone's attached to their desktop
environment of choice, be it KDE, Gnome, Unity, Windomaker, or
whatever. I use Xfce because it's super-customizable, lightweight,
and really snappy and responsive. The super-customizable part is
most important for the tablet aspect here.
Naturally, being a Debian hippie, I picked a bunch of packages that
are already in the current Debian Testing. So if you're on that, or
anything based off Debian that's reasonably up-to-date, you can
install all of this with...
(Run as root or through sudo, of course.)
Here's the script I use to set up my Wacom Tablet using xsetwacom at
Xfce startup. This script is just placed in a ~/Scripts directory,
and run from the Xfce Application Autostart list. That list can be
found in Applications Menu -> Settings -> Session and Startup
-> Application Autostart.
(Feel free to copy, modify, and use this script as much as you
Gnome-Pie is in my Application Autostart list in the same way (but
the application itself has an option to add itself to the autostart
list). I hooked the Gnome-Pie invocation binding in the script up to
one of the menus in the Gnome-Pie settings. On the Cintiq Companion
2, this connects the middle button (the one with the Windows logo)
to the Gnome-Pie menu.
I recommend turning on "turbo mode" for your main menu pie in
Gnome-Pie. It will give you the ability to just hold the menu
button, hover roughly over what you want to select, and let go of
the menu button for fast selections.
What you put in your Gnome-Pie setup to act as a quick selection is
up to you. Right now I only have Onboard, Gnome, and an option that
recurses down into a normal applications menu. Ideas for the future
include alternate layouts for the pad buttons. Those would
essentially just be scripts like the one above, but only the section
for mapping pad buttons, and a specific setup for each application
or context within an application. A crazy thought is that maybe even
something like Blender - with all of its reliance on keybindings -
could be a bit usable with Gnome-Pie and a keyboard-less tablet PC.
Hopefully this undirected brain dump is useful to some other
Linux-loving artist that wants to put their OS of choice on a tablet