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GUI Input Devices Ubuntu X News

Ubuntu 10.10 Multitouch Support Demo 104

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the isn't-that-pretty dept.
Timothy found a news report and a little video demonstrating the multi-touch capabilities of Ubuntu. It's attached below if you're curious what the new Unity Netbook UI is looking like these days.

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Ubuntu 10.10 Multitouch Support Demo

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  • Slash dot told me so just three stories ago.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by blai (1380673)
      Jesus also died for three stories and rose again. What's your point?
      • Linus will rise again?

        I knew he was a god, no mortal could call the OpenBSD guys "Masturbating monkeys" and live to tell about it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't you see him pick up the computer in the video? No desktop needed. This is about post-desktop computing.

    • Tablet != desktop, even if it's lying on your desk top :)

      • by grub (11606)

        I can feel the tremors of fear emanating from Cupertino...
        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          They are too dissociated from reality to understand 'fear'.

          And, I think Android would be 10x more likely to make them afraid than Ubuntu.

      • While that's true for OSX and the iPad, it isn't true for Linux.

        In Linux, the difference between a desktop and a tablet is an interface layer, in this case adding multitouch capabilities. The applications and kernel are the same.

        My daughters run Kubuntu Netbook Remix. When I forgot my power supply at work, I borrowed one of their systems, installed Eclipse and got to work. The difference between NBR and regular Ubuntu is......configuration, nothing more.

        Hardware differences aside (Core2 vs dual-Atom / 4G

        • I know all that, the fact remains it isn't in desktop form factor.. it was a joke anyway. If Linux is dead on the desktop it's only because the desktop is dying.

        • initiatives such as this and nokia's efforts with Qt for meego/symbian allow for iPad form factors in a 'desktop' OS.
          I see a trickle down effect where instead of rewriting an application for an embedded toolkit, applications can be re-skinned for small devices and touch input. Same gtk+/Qt toolkit, different l&f.

    • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:59AM (#33933982) Homepage

      Portables != Desktop. The article you're referring to also makes a point of pointing out how *well* Linux is doing on portables. This device is more closely related to an iPad than a desktop. That said I have several questions the video doesn't answer. Does this device have a physical keyboard or a virtual one. If it's got a physical KB then they did a fantastic job of hiding the thing while it wasn't being used. If it's got a virtual keyboard I'd really like to see it up as part of the video. Just to get an idea for how much screen real estate it uses and such.

      I've been considering an iPad. Honestly this looks nicer (at any rate more open, which is more important to me on a tablet than a phone), but I'd want to see a lot more than a couple muti-touch gestures to be sold. He really only demonstrates two gestures, mostly he spends the whole video using a single finger to simulate a left-click on static objects. Hardly revolutionary. Can it do pinch zoom? Two finger scrolling or one finger? Will two fingers simulate a right-click? (It's a mostly desktop OS, so unlike in iOS right clicking is probably pretty useful). I'm sure I could find out the answers, but if you're going to make a promo video for "multi-touch" show me some "multi-touching".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by natehoy (1608657)

        Can it do pinch zoom? Two finger scrolling or one finger? Will two fingers simulate a right-click? (It's a mostly desktop OS, so unlike in iOS right clicking is probably pretty useful). I'm sure I could find out the answers, but if you're going to make a promo video for "multi-touch" show me some "multi-touching".

        From the article:

        One of the coolest things though is one that will be experienced by the fewest people at this point – touch. Unity is fully touch-enabled – those big icons are screaming out to have a digit poked at them. But as ever, the boys in the lab, or in this case Duncan McGregor‘s multi-touch team have gone a step further and created a multi-touch ‘gesture’ library. This allows finger combinations to do groovy things like expand and reduce windows, pull up multiple windows in one workspace, and call up the ‘dash’ automatically. These are in 10.10. In 11.04 we will see a lot more.

        So I'd say, no, it doesn't have more than just what they demonstrated

        At least not yet. But you'll probably have a lot of them delivered by, interestingly enough, Natty Narwhal (which is odd because Narwhals don't look like they'd be too interested in multitouch).

        Given that I'm sure the multitouch library will expand even more significantly for 11.10, I'd like to make a suggestion for the name: Omnipotent Octopus.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by DrgnDancer (137700)

          Oh, hey, look... An article. I just sort of watched the embedded video and assumed that was the whole thing. That answers more of my questions, and also tells me that this isn't quite what I was looking for. What I really want is an iPad style device with a full OS on it. I want the full OS to have UI optimized for the small screen real estate (which it looks like this Ubuntu WM is). This is definitely getting there, but I want a different form factor and a much larger gesture library. Maybe in a year

      • by skine (1524819)

        Just look at the device. It's a laptop with a swivel screen, so of course it has a physical keyboard.

        That said, it would be nice to see how it would implement a software keyboard for when you don't want the hassle of turning the device back into a laptop.

        Ubuntu is

        • by AvitarX (172628)

          I hope they get something better than dash.

          Or more familiar anyway (though I've tried dash a few times and thwomp it speedwise with my phone in portrait mode)

      • show me some "multi-touching"

        I saw it....several times.

      • It's a Dell Latitude XT2 [dell.com] convertible tablet PC -- with a physical keyboard.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:49AM (#33933808) Homepage

    For a dead operating system there are some exciting advancements coming out.

    • by sharkey (16670)
      They ditched the Linux kernel for *BSD?
  • by aardwolf64 (160070) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:49AM (#33933822) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure that video broke 2-3 patents that were just granted to Apple. Apple should totally sue them and take 10% of their revenue from selling downloads of Ub... Nevermind.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much any computational device with a power on/off button violates one or the other patents from Apple. After all, everything that exists today in computer/phone technology is pretty much invented, patented, copyrighted or trademarked by Apple.

      CAPITALISM FTW, BITCHES!!

  • Nifty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:50AM (#33933828) Journal

    That's pretty good so far. Hopefully we can configure the icon bar on the left to hide by default the same way you can hide the task bar on any desktop. Speaking of the task bar, how is task switching accomplished on this thing? I may have missed it in the video. Is there a gesture that does the same thing as Alt-TAB?

    My biggest concern, what happens when you want(yes, want) to use the terminal?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by somersault (912633)

      That's pretty good so far. Hopefully we can configure the icon bar on the left to hide by default the same way you can hide the task bar on any desktop.

      Probably. I use Docky set to autohide, it would work fine with a touchscreen.

      Speaking of the task bar, how is task switching accomplished on this thing? I may have missed it in the video. Is there a gesture that does the same thing as Alt-TAB?

      If you can do the expose style view with multitouch, I don't see why you couldn't set the alt-tab style switch in compiz to use the same gesture.

      My biggest concern, what happens when you want(yes, want) to use the terminal?

      Same as when you want to type anything else in? Use the onscreen keyboard, or connect up an external one..

      • PS if you use a dock like Docky or AWM, you also can do task switching via that, because as well as being an application launcher, it loads in all your running apps into the dock. Same idea as the OSX dock and the Win7 task bar.

    • Task switching in Unity is easy (and elegant). THere is a workspaces button on the "dock" that shows all of your windows/workspaces in an Expose type manner (Thank you OS X). You can drag programs between workspaces, as well as click on one to maximize. Also, if you have 3 windows open in firefox, for example, you can click on the firefox icon in the dock, and it will show all open firefox windows in miniature (also kind of expose like) and you can click on the one you want. I have some minor grudges with
    • by eggz128 (447435)

      I'm using Unity right now on my Samsung NC10. Not touch, but it's the same interface.

      Hopefully we can configure the icon bar on the left to hide by default the same way you can hide the task bar on any desktop.

      Right now you can't. It's a little annoying because it means I have to left-right scroll on some websites (1024x600 screen).

      Speaking of the task bar, how is task switching accomplished on this thing?

      Apps that are opened appear in the left hand dock (if they aren't there already because you've locked t

  • by spiffydudex (1458363) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:51AM (#33933842)

    One thing that wasn't mentioned in the article text or accompanying video that I am curious about, how does text input work? When a text bar or area is activated does it bring up a keyboard?

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:12AM (#33934170)
      That video had an awful lot of editing ... and some 'instant response' from the device ... almost like the commercials for iDevices & Droids on TV. It would have been nice to see a longer video with the actual response times for everything. I'm just sayin'
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Again (1351325)

        That video had an awful lot of editing ... and some 'instant response' from the device ... almost like the commercials for iDevices & Droids on TV. It would have been nice to see a longer video with the actual response times for everything. I'm just sayin'

        Yeah, definitely a lot of editing. When I run the Unity interface on my lowly netbook, it is very sluggish. Click... wait... should I click again...? wait... yes... oops, it just popped up and went away quickly... click again... wait... I didn't use it for very long before going back to my regular interface. Of course, the device in the video may be a whole lot more powerful than my netbook but I thought that the Unity interface was "optimized" for the netbook.

        But I want to say that the video looks ver

  • by imgod2u (812837) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:51AM (#33933852) Homepage

    One of the important UI changes about a touch-only interface is that things such as managing the filesystem, arranging folders and icons, etc. are too cumbersome to do in the traditional navigator window type of interface.

    iOS just gets rid of it altogether whereas Android limits you to handling files via applications. Unless they've managed to come up with a proper auto-categorization and file organizer -- such that I don't need to go through folders to get to a media file I want to play -- this will still be a cumbersome desktop OS with a touch UI "layer" on top.

    • by yelvington (8169) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:07AM (#33934108) Homepage

      Just do like I do. All your files on your desktop. :-)

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      File managers work fine on the n900 (default or Filebox). Just limit the feature set of the file manager to avoid complicating the interface and you are good to go. Its no more difficult to tap your way down a folder system than it is clicking your way.

        For most user cases Tracker or the application will be good enough.

    • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:36AM (#33934476)

      A meta data tagging system combined with search should work wonders for organization, if only people would actually tag their files so they can find them later.

      Auto categorization has sever limits, it can distinguish between file type, do keyword search on known text files and possibly use face recognition to distinguish between scenes and portraits or gps meta data to filter photos by location, but anything more than that is going to be impossible. It is impossible because it not only requires strong AI, but because it requires strong AI that knows how you would categorize things.

      • by imgod2u (812837)

        See that's the thing. People -- including myself -- don't *want* to manually tag stuff. It's the difference between a computer geek and a computer user. The user just wants everything done for him/her with the possibility of tweaking how the machine makes its decisions.

        I wouldn't put it past Google to work on advanced file auto-classification algorithms that will one day make "oh I gotta put this in my music folder" obsolete.

        Of course, then there's the "wait, don't name that 'porn' automatically!!" aspect..

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          The thing is, it also isn't really possible to do that with the current state if things.

          If you want more than the limited options that I stated above?

          The mechanical turk process (where you have thousands of Chinese or Indian kids making 5 cents an hour to look at your files and tag them) can help, but they still won't know your personal context.

    • >> iOS just gets rid of it altogether

      Yep, and I think that's a problem, not a feature.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > One of the important UI changes about a touch-only interface is that things such as
      > managing the filesystem, arranging folders and icons, etc. are too cumbersome to do
      > in the traditional navigator window type of interface.

      No not really. What's cumbersome is when certain operating systems try to do that. That's because they are trying to completely ignore the last 25 years of computing rather than trying to cherry pick good ideas that might be old but still serviceable.

      File manglers are some of

    • I'm more interested in transporting this off of a multitouch device and putting it on a desktop I've got at home. That may sound odd at first (who has a touch interface desktop besides restaraunts?) but it's actually a fun project that's turned into more of a project I've got going.

      I saw Johnny Lee's Wii Hack back in 2008 and fell in love with the idea of having that wall projected screen with interaction from the couch using just a pen or something of that nature. As such I took my desktop, went out and bo

    • Yea, but you don't HAVE to manage your files all the time. Many applications just work out of your home folder or some nested folder in there and Open dialogs work fine. Other web apps work just fine as well.

      The advantage here is that you have the OPTION to manipulate the files. Too cumbersome to do with touch? Sit down and do it with your KM since in the end at least it has a full featured OS.
  • Tabs, not windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:51AM (#33933862) Journal

    I think it looks great, but I can't help but think that using application windows like on a regular desktop is maybe a step backwards for multitouch tablet devices. Sure, people are familiar with opening and maximizing or minimizing windows, but the buttons for such windows are small compared to the rest of the screen and hard to hit with clumsy fingers (especially mine). It's nice that the Unity desktop has the vertical launch bar on the left side - could this launch bar not be modified to function almost as a tab bar for open applications? That'd be much easier, I think, for touch and gesture based devices. Or, even better, use the Expose style overview mode to switch between windows (as shown in the video) rather than allowing the user to reshape and manipulate windows directly.

    • but the buttons for such windows are small compared to the rest of the screen and hard to hit with clumsy fingers (especially mine)

      It looked like the user was using gestures for those things in the video, not the window control buttons. Swipe the window to the top for Maximize, move to the center for restore, etc...

      Not positive about this as I have not used it but that's the way it appears in the video and IMHO mitigates the issues you mention.

  • What multi-touch? (Score:5, Informative)

    by InsaneProcessor (869563) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:56AM (#33933944)
    I saw no real multi-touch features demonstrated in the video. He just moved the window around with more that one finger. I can do that on any touch screen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      There were several multi-touch gestures, but it would have been nice to have him move his hand a little more slowly and make it more obvious which finger(s) were on the screen at any time. For example, he appeared to call up the desktop split view by using two fingers, and tapping all five fingers of one hand on the screen seemed to call up a tasklist or somesuch.

      As the article itself stated, the multi-touch gesture library is very limited at the moment in 10.10, but 11.04 should expand that library consid

    • by Knuckles (8964)

      The design team has lead the way, developing a “touch language” which goes beyond the work that we’ve seen elsewhere. Rather than single, magic gestures, we’re making it possible for basic gestures to be chained, or composed, into more sophisticated “sentences”. The basic gestures, or primitives, are like individual verbs, and stringing them together allows for richer interactions. It’s not quite the difference between banging rocks together and conducting a sympho

  • Maybe it's me, but I think Unity would rock hard as the front end for a Home Theatre PC.

    Music, Video, Game System Emulators (NES FTW), Photo Sharing... Sounds about right.
    • I think that'd be pretty sweet. Also, when Google TV goes Open Source that'll be cool to see integrated by way of some app or something.
  • Now if Ubuntu would just rethink the UI and make it essentially touch based rather than just hiding the mouse pointer...

  • Awesome (Score:1, Troll)

    by Osgeld (1900440)

    though over the weekend I had to boot ubuntu on a samsung laptop to backup someones files before they formatted, and it couldn't find the network card (though windows 7 had no problem). So I am glad were focusing on the important stuff, like multitouch, that not many people have

    • ... I had to boot ubuntu on a samsung laptop to backup someones files before they
      formatted, and it couldn't find the network card (though windows 7 had no problem).

      Maybe Samsung should do something about that...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by element-o.p. (939033)
      That happens, regardless of OS (except maybe Mac, but that's only because they strictly limit the hardware that OS-X runs on...). I've had the same problem with drivers that you described when installing Windows on various machines -- my wife's old XP desktop a few years ago, the Win2K3 server I built recently (and that required a freaking *FLOPPY DRIVE* to install 3rd party RAID drivers, sigh...). Sometimes Windows has the right driver built in, sometimes Linux does.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      Troll? Flamebate?

      Bah, you know what? ubuntu has an entire list of stuff that people want fixed BEFORE this years gimmick, multitouch is only half finished amd left for dead

      personally on my machines I have rolled back to 9, the 10x version are just constantly irritating to me and am currently looking at other distros

  • "Unity is fully touch-enabled – those big icons are screaming out to have a digit poked at them."

    I think most socially-awkward computer nerds are NOT happy with this condescending double-entendre!
  • incorporate a multi-touch screen version of a chorded keyboard [wikipedia.org] for the command line.
  • Anyone else, hate touch screens? I can't bring myself to actually touch a screen smudges and smears finger prints and oils all drive me crazy on the screen. Give me a keyboard and mouse any day.
    • by Nadaka (224565)

      I definately prefer they keyboard. I even use my keyboard 99% of the time on my Galaxy S smart phone. I basically only use the touch screen for keyboard incompatible features.

    • I thought that would be an issue before I got my iPod Touch, but it just isn't; the screen is bright enough to make the smudges nearly invisible, especially when you're looking at it straight-on (i.e. nearly all of the time).

  • Its all good if your netbook or tablet has a touchscreen, but I find it clunky compared to the 10.04
      netbook ubuntu for my regular netbooks.

  • New ubuntu user here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iONiUM (530420) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:53AM (#33934668) Homepage Journal

    I recently got an Asus EEE (1001px) netbook as a gift, and it came with Windows 7 starter. Now, I use windows 7 at home (ultimate) and I don't dislike it, but I was very unhappy with starter. You can't even change the background image, I mean, what the fuck.

    Anyways, I used to use linux (I mean, like 10 years ago when I was in highschool I used to use debian and slackware), but haven't really since. I decided to try ubuntu so I did a USB installation and put 10.10 netbook edition. I have to say, it was just as easy (if not easier) than a win7 installation (which I have to do often), and is WAY better on a netbook.

    I think people who say linux is popular on portables are exactly right. It's an awesome fit, and I love it.

  • So will the multi-touch work on my Fujitsu T4310 Lifebook? It has a multi-touch capacitive touch screen which works great in Windows 7.
  • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:19PM (#33936852)
    I will say from experience that Unity sucks a big fat one on netbooks. I'm not talking about old netbooks, either. I just bought a brand new HP Mini 210 and an Acer AO532h Both have an Atom N450, which isn't the fastest processor in the world, but Unity runs like a slideshow on both of them. It's supposed to be a distribution optimized for netbooks. The dock is almost unusable because of the lag, and it launches apps slow as hell. The 10.04 netbook interface was much faster and more responsive. Sure Unity is (or could be) slick and pretty, but the netbook remix isn't supposed to be about slick and pretty. It's supposed to be about fast and easy performance on sub-standard hardware.

    I think at this point it might be entirely appropriate to separate the netbook distro from a tablet distro. Tablet PC's have substantially more horsepower than netbooks, the two projects have completely different goals. Why have them in a single distro? On my netbook I ended up hacking in the old netbook interface and it works great, but what I did is out of the reach of most people that the Ubuntu community is trying to attract. If they could get this OS on $250 netbooks from Wal-Mart, maybe the general public would realize that Linux doesn't suck, and isn't hard to use. I shouldn't need to re-compile my kernel to figure that out.
    • by iONiUM (530420)

      I don't know if you're full of shit or what, because I run 10.10 on my EEE (1001px) and it's fast as lightning.

      • by ephemere (645313)
        It depends on your hardware. There's an apparent bug in Unity that is making it unusably slow on a number of popular netbook models (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/mutter/+bug/657976). I'm not sure how this wasn't noticed before launch.
  • I can say that my Magic Mouse now works flawlessly with 10.10, while past versions required a kernel module that was pretty flaky.

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