Feeds

Canonical reveals next Ubuntu's touchy side

Meerkat's gesture APIs and engine released

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Touchy tablets are hogging the headlines and giving Steve Ballmer sleepless nights, but Linux netbooks are the focus of Canonical's latest push.

Ubuntu's chief sponsor has released uTouch 1.0, a multi-touch and gesture stack for the Maverick Meekat release of the Linux distro coming in October.

The stack comprises an open-source gesture-recognition engine and a gesture API, built using C and released under the GPLv3 and LGPLv3.

uTouch is the first big push to bring multi-touch to a broad swath of Ubuntu applications and inputs from kernel to applications. By releasing the code, Canonical hopes developers can help improve the APIs and also use them to touch-enable more applications running on Ubuntu.

Canonical said uTouch has worked "particularly well" on the Dell Latitude XT2 and HP tx2 devices — machines with a screen that flips so the devices become tablets — and Lenovo's T410s.

uTouch will be integrated with the Ubuntu 10.10's Unity interface for netbooks. Integration to make uTouch work more easily with a full PC is planned for Ubuntu 11.04, with touch enablement to remain a focus of Canonical's Ubuntu up to version 12.04.

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth told The Reg that despite this year's hype around the iPad, touch has strong appeal outside of tablets in the world of netbooks. Shuttleworth expects that uTouch will work with a range of devices from major manufacturers with add-ons such as Apple's Magic Trackpad, by the time Ubuntu 10,10 is released later this year.

According to Shuttleworth, uTouch's gesture-recognition engine will recognize multi-touch input via a trackpad as well as a screen.

"I don't think this is going to be a rarity or an oddity in the traditional laptop or netbook world and on desktop," Shuttleworth said of multi-touch input. "The gesture stuff is the same — if you are doing a three-finger pan or rotate, the gesture engine can take input from a screen or touchpad."

The goal with uTouch is to link together a series of commands for input. You could, for example, use three fingers to move, resize, minimize, and maximize windows, and use four fingers for shell management — such as making an application full-screen. That'll be in addition to two-finger scrolling and resizing.

Shuttleworth added that most Gtk and Qt applications won't need recoding to work with uTouch at this level, although coding might be needed for more advanced touch gestures.

Canonical would need to work with others to tweak their applications for touch. Shuttleworth said it would be “interesting” to work with folks such as the Mozilla Foundation, which has added multi-touch support for Microsoft's Windows 7 in the latest Firefox 4 beta, as they now have a framework to put touch on Ubuntu.

Ubuntu's creator remains positive about the future of netbooks, despite this category of machine being pretty much eclipsed during 2010 by the iPad and Microsoft's scramble to catch up.

"We will ship two to three times as many Ubuntu installs on the [netbook] form factor this year as we did last year. The tablet was a fantastic wake-up call to an industry that was convinced it had seen it all. I have a tablet, and it's a nice lazy computing device, but I wouldn't use it as my only device. [The iPad] creates new opportunities," he said.

“Our focus is the netbook because there’s still quite a bit of innovating left — we’ll see whether tablets are hot in a year.” ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.