Linux native multitouch support

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This demo made by Mohamed-Ikbel Boulabiar, Stephane Chatty and Sebastien Hamdani from the Interactive Computing Lab at ENAC shows how one can use the multi-touch capabilities that Henrik Rydberg added to the Linux input system.

You need:

  • Linux kernel 2.6.31 or more recent;
  • a computer with a Linux-compatible multitouch device. Here is a list of available multitouch devices and their support status;
  • the corresponding driver. Most are already in the Linux kernel sources, others are available from the list of devices above. Here is information about how how to install the drivers;
  • our demo code.

    How to use the code: The demo code reads input directly from the device file ("/dev/input/eventX"). The X server is not involved in input handling at this stage (see here for Xorg integration) The demos perform very simple gesture recognition then send DBus messages to Compiz to produce effects. You need to activate Compiz with the DBus plugin to get the demo working, and for window rotate/scale you will also need the freewins plugin.

    The roadmap: These demos were produced in Spring 2009. The multitouch events are in the kernel since version 2.6.30, as well as the Broadcom driver. Our multitouch code in the N-Trig driver is in the kernel since version 2.6.31. Our Stantum HID, Quanta, MosArt and 3M drivers are in the kernel since 2.6.34 and in Ubuntu 10.04. Our DiamondTouch drivers be submitted as soon as CircleTwelve and/or Mitsubish Electric give us the green light for redistributing their firmware under GPL. The lab is currently contributing to the multitouch management in We are now involved in the thinking on how to reorganise input management in both Xorg and the kernel to better deal with multitouch, including gesture recognition.

    Context: This work was done as part of project ShareIT, a research project in which we collaborate with our good friends the multitouch hardware makers at Stantum, the multitouch software and interaction experts at IntuiLab and the aircraft cockpit designers at Thales Avionics to explore the use of multitouch user interfaces in cockpits. But no, there is no plan to use Linux in the cockpit, this is just for the lab's research :-)

    Multitouch? Here is some more information about multitouch interaction, available devices, multitouch on Linux, etc.

    Contact: chatty at
    Updated Feb 6, 2010.