Sunday, 4 December 2011

Ubuntu Linux on a Packard Bell OneTwo - Update

The Packard Bell OneTwo touch screen computer has not been used for quite a while, so I decided to start using it rather than my daughter's PC, because it uses a lot less power and is quieter.

The main issues from when I tried it before were:

  • Screen flicker every now and then
  • Touch screen calibration issues.
We installed Ubuntu 11.10 on it as a clean install.  Went pretty well.  The issues were:
  1. Used a normal screen shape rather than wide screen.   Solved this by going to the settings / display menu and changing to a 16:10 aspect ratio screen resolution.
  2. Touch Screen Calibration:  This took a while to solve because when you pressed the screen the mouse pointer appeared at a different position.  Eventually I traced it to the display settings that I had altered - Although there is only one monitor on the computer, the software detects two displays (there must be tv-out hardware in the box, but no connector outside).  I had un-clicked the 'mirror displays' option and this had resulted in the two screens being shown side by side.  I didn't think anything of it as there is no monitor connected to the second, but it confused the touch screen calibration - switching the un-used display to 'off' solved it and the touch screen calibration is fine now.
  3. Multi-Touch:  The touch screen works just like a mouse.  I think it should be able to cope with multiple touches so you can do 'pinch' gestures etc. to re-size windows.  This is not working.   I tried using the mtview utility as described in the Ubuntu wiki, and it seems like multi touch is working - you can draw with two fingers at the same time, but the window manager does not seem to be using them.
Therefore, Ubuntu 11.10 worked much better 'out of the box' than the previous version I had tried - the main missing thing is multi-touch support for the touch screen.  This is an important one to fix for me because our son is VERY short sighted, and looks very closely at the screen, often pressing his forehead against it.  Once he has done that, the touch screen does not work because it only detects one press at a time!   I am going to have to learn how x windows input devices work to debug this I think.....
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