Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and Tablets

I just had to mention this: The latest version of Ubuntu finally supports input hotplugging. What this means is that you can plug in your tablet at any point and start taking advantage of its pressure sensitivity, etc. Previously, it would only work correctly if Ubuntu (the X server part of it) started with the tablet plugged in. Let me just say: OMG, I’ve been waiting for this for years! Seriously. I hadn’t been keeping up with every detail on the release (and I’m surprised I hadn’t seen mention of this yet), but I always plug in my USB tablet and run a quick test with new releases. This time, it actually worked! My test turned into a quick (and random) doodle:

How to Test

Plug in your tablet.

Run GIMP (included with Ubuntu by default).
Applications > Graphics > GIMP Image Editor

Enable Extended Input devices in GIMP.
Edit > Preferences > Input Devices > Configure Extended Input Devices

Find your tablet under the Device dropdown (mine is a Wacom Graphire) and select Screen or Window for the Mode. (It defaults to disabled.)

Create a new image, select the paintbrush tool and start drawing. To play with the features of your tablet, expand the Brush Dynamics section in the paintbrush options window (should be below the toolbox, where you selected the paintbrush). Here you can adjust things that pressure of your pen will control, like size and opacity. Fun stuff!

It’s not perfect (only works with the stylus – eraser doesn’t work without configuring), but it’s a HUGE step!! πŸ˜€ And the fact that this also includes the latest version of GIMP (2.6) makes this upgrade an absolute no-brainer for linux graphic-philes. πŸ™‚

I found the new UI in GIMP a little strange at first, because I became so accustomed to the old one, but it is much better.

Upgrade Problems

Related to the upgrade, I lost wireless connectivity with my laptop upon doing it because the hostap_cs driver is used. I forgot about this issue that I had with previous releases and my super-cheap 1000yen wireless card. Blacklisting the hostap_cs driver and forcing the orinoco_cs driver fixed my problem again. The lesson: the upgrade wasn’t perfect and it should never be assumed that they will be – please backup your stuff! But do do the upgrade! πŸ˜‰


  1. cool tornado! it’d take me a good couple hours to draw that whole scene…

    so is there a halloween update cookin in the oven?

  2. I really like the doodle. In fact, I like most of your doodles. You could be a cartoonist! πŸ™‚

    I want to get myself a pressure sensitive tablet. I’ve always wanted to draw out some of the things I picture in my mind… but can’t, with the mouse. But of course, they’re of a different nature from what you draw, and I can be pretty certain that they won’t be as nice.

  3. Hah! Thanks, Alex. πŸ™‚ Actually, a cartoonist is something I wanted to be…. I love animation and drawing!

    You can grab a cheapo Wacom tablet for less than $100 to play around with. I guess the $80 Bamboo is the successor to the Graphire, which is what I have. They’re lots of fun. Once you start looking at them, however, you may find the higher end models items of great temptation. πŸ˜€

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