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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Ubuntu Accomplishments – Wacom Tablet May 26, 2009 7:07 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Hardware, Technology
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I have two Wacom tablets that I use for my art. My first tablet ever was a Wacom UD-Digitizer II serial tablet. I’m not even sure USB was around back then. This tablet was unbelievable at the time! Felt like I was writing on paper with a real pen or brush. Being able to use an eraser on the computer was remarkable. However, there were certain problems with its size, roughly 5×7, so I bought a Wacom Intuos serial tablet that is more like 12×10 inches. Tablets make computer art fun!

When I set aside a new machine for a replacement Linux server for my in-house development, I decided to actually use Ubuntu Desktop 8.04 and install Apache-MySQL-PHP on it afterwards. I’ve found myself using the Linux Desktop more and I think I can eventually migrate completely from Windows. Unfortunately, the computer I chose to do this with uses a mechanical mouse instead of an optical mouse. You know, one with the mouse ball that constantly needs cleaning. The mechanical mouse holds me back more than anything else from making the switch. Ergo, I decided to pull the Wacom Digitizer II out of the boneyard and see if I could get it to work. It was surprisingly simple.

Two support documents helped make quick work of getting the tablet functioning. 1) The community documentation for Wacom and 2) The community documentation for Wacom troubleshooting. The first gave me this simple line:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-wacom wacom-tools

The tablet failed to work. The second explained that I needed to update /usr/bin/dexconf which would then rebuild /etc/X11/xorg.conf with these lines:

Section "InputDevice"
      Driver "wacom"
      Identifier "stylus"
      Option "Device" "/dev/input/wacom" # USB ONLY?
      # Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
      Option "Type" "stylus"
      # Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
      Option "USB" "on" # USB ONLY
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
      Driver "wacom"
      Identifier "eraser"
      Option "Device" "/dev/input/wacom" # USB ONLY?
      # Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
      Option "Type" "eraser"
      # Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
      Option "USB" "on" # USB ONLY
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
      Driver "wacom"
      Identifier "cursor"
      Option "Device" "/dev/input/wacom" # USB ONLY?
      # Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
      Option "Type" "cursor"
      # Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
      Option "USB" "on" # USB ONLY
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
      Driver "wacom"
      Identifier "pad"
      Option "Device" "/dev/input/wacom" # USB ONLY
      # Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
      Option "Type" "pad"
      Option "USB" "on" # USB ONLY
EndSection

# Uncomment the following section if you you have a TabletPC that supports touch
# Section "InputDevice"
# Driver "wacom"
# Identifier "touch"
# Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
# Option "Device" "/dev/input/wacom" # USB ONLY
# Option "Type" "touch"
# Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Serial Tablet PC ONLY
# Option "USB" "on" # USB ONLY
# EndSection

Naturally I would have to comment out the USB references and uncomment the serial references. Then the serverlayout section had to look like:

Section "ServerLayout"
      Identifier "Default Layout"
      Screen "Default Screen"
      InputDevice "stylus" "SendCoreEvents"
      InputDevice "eraser" "SendCoreEvents"
      InputDevice "cursor" "SendCoreEvents" # For non-LCD tablets only
      InputDevice "pad" # For       Intuos3/CintiqV5/Graphire4/Bamboo tablets
      # InputDevice "touch" "SendCoreEvents" # Only a few TabletPCs support this type
EndSection

I rebooted and nothing happened. I realized /usr/bin/dexconf was a script and ran it. Upon rebooting I was stuck in VGA mode. This was looking like a failed experiment. On a whim I decided to make the changes directly to /etc/X11/xorg.conf and surprisingly, the tablet came to life! GIMP is suddenly fun to use!

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