Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Rescuing a ViewSonic Tablet from the junkpile by installing SuSE 9.0.
Conclusion

We now have Linux running on this machine that previously was unusable. Installation was much more straightforward than I initially expected, which is a testament to the current state of Linux development. The biggest hurdles were using the external floppy drive to boot from floppy the first time and working around the networking connection issue. If one was lacking an external floppy drive, I would guess a network bootable image could be created instead. However, with USB floppy drives available for about $30(US), it might not be worth the effort to create the net-bootable install image.

When this article was written, the TabletPC still was with me and had not been used in the field. Perhaps I will have the chance in a few months to write an addendum to relate how well the system performs in the field. I am optimistic that what was nearly a $1,300 boat anchor running Windows 98 is now a highly reliable network maintenance system. Perhaps I should have named the system phoenix.

______________________

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Also works wonderfully with SUSE 9.3

Eric Baenen's picture

My sys admin group recently received one of these Viewpad 1000 systems as a turn-in - and it was destined for the trash - it was running Win2K and the admin password had been lost. Based on this article I rescued the system, dug up a usb floppy and installed SUSE 9.3 on it. It is now working extremely well as a linux tablet -- though I'm still having a little difficulty changing the screen orientation - not a show stopper but it would be nice. Everything seems to be working including the touch screen - though I haven't tried the camera yet. All in all - a very successful quick experiment - with the result, a quite useable system.

Getting the built in camera working under SUSE 9.3

Eric Baenen's picture

Here is what you need to get the built in camera working under SUSE 9.3

http://mxhaard.free.fr/download.html

Everything else was recognized and configured right out of the box.

If you go into the SaX2 properties for the video card you can change screen orientation - though the screen on the ViewPad looks like it has a polarization that makes it look best in landscape mode (my personal opinion only).

What about the built-in camera?

Anonymous's picture

Is the internal camera usable under Linux?

I have an EARLY ViewPad 1000 running a version of Win2K hacked with early "Tablet PC" support. The internal camera is usable only via the MS Imaging utility. Supposedly, it is a USB device, though it doesn't show up in the Attached Devices list.

-BobC

Re: What about the built-in camera?

Anonymous's picture

Whoops: Left out some key items:

The built-in camera is a ViewQuest M318B, and it does show up under the Win2K "Installed Hardware" list. Despite being easily removable, it does not show up in the "Unplug or Eject Hardware" dialog.

-BobC

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

Hmmm...not sure I see how this made a better tablet. I'm kind of tired of reading the "put Linux on everything to save the world from M$ even if it doesn't make sense" viewpoint. I think I would have fixed Windows.

I am also not sure why you had Windows 98 on it considering it is a tablet. Mine came with a tablet version of XP which works pretty well actually.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

After upgrading mine to XP tablet edition, I've found that the touchscreen is only being handled as mouse emulation, and not as an actual pen device from XPs perspective. Would you be willing to share the input driver that allows XP to see the touchscreen input as a pen? I haven't seen anything from Viewsonic about this. That aside, it is a fairly slow machine running XP.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

There is much more about Linux on Tablet PCs at TuxMobil. And there is a dedicated chapter in the Linux-Mobile-Guide.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

You should let Viewsonic know they should be supplying SuSE Linux 9 as standard instead of Windows.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

I am somewhat surprised by the "Tablet PC" nomenclature. For a laptop to be called so, It has to use Windows XP tablet PC edition, which (regardless of your feelings towards MS) works much better than Windows 98.

Computer + XPTablet != TabletPC

Greyson's picture

Just to keep the air clear here, the term "Tablet PC" does not refer to the operating system, but to the fusion of (wacom related) tabet hardware with an LCD screen.

In other news, Linux also runs quite well on the NEC Versa Lite.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

rglenfld's picture

About 6 months before Tablet PCs were shipped, Viewsonic was also selling a 'tablet' that converted a desktop running M$ XP Pro into a host, supporting a 'portable' screen.

And the 'tablet' may have only been running Win CE.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

Interesting, but what about the touchscreen? I would have thought that the major issue with moving from the manufacturer-installed OS to Linux would be how to get the touchscreen working. Isn't that the main idea of tablet PCs?

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

In the article it said that the touchscreen worked with no additional configuration.

Touch Screen Configuration

Anonymous's picture

I got one of these, put Ubuntu on it, and the touchscreen was not automatically configured for me. It sees it as a touch PAD...which doesn't work so nicely...

Any chance anyone knows what kind of touchscreen it is? There's a /dev/input/ts0 file there, but I don't know what driver to use in my xorg.conf file...

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

yeah... but how about handwriting recognition? does linux have anything better that windows?

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

you fool. use Xscribble. There are plenty of other handwriting recongnizers available for linux that were made fo r linux pda's. Do a little research and you'll find what you need.

Re: Making the ViewSonic Tablet PC Run Linux

Anonymous's picture

I'm pretty sure there's a pcmcia config option to fix the card-insertion problem you had - basically polling for new cards instead of assuming an interrupt will show up. _Mark_

ps. Thanks for the article - if one of these shows up on eBay it is now much more interesting, knowing that it isn't "all locked up"...

Suse 10.0 or 9.3 on a Viewsonic V1100

C.Paulsen's picture

High,
I did the following steps:
1.Tried to install Opensuse 10.0 on the V1100. Everythink runs but the pen did'n.t!
2.I tried the same with Suse 9.3 and afterwards I tried to configure the WACOM with the same attributes I found in some googled documents for the V1000: wacom,Absolute,/dev/ttyS0,Bottomx 30000,GRAFIRE/INTUOS Stylus(SERIAL). But I had no success. Has anybody similar expieriences or even better ones?

RE: Suse 10.0 on a Viewsonic V1100

D.Roe's picture

Hi,
I also installed OpenSUSE 10.0 on the V1100 tablet pc.
I would like to get the pen working too. If you cat /dev/ttyS0 you can watch the pen being moved around. Adding a pen (with default config) to the configuration doesn't work. If no one else has a fix or a workaround, I might be able to kludge something together, but I won't have time for a while. If anyone else out there has anything, please tell us about it.

(None of my other Win PCs liked collecting viruses and spyware so much. Nor were they as adept at circumventing McAfee. Boot up time was finally in excess of half an hour before I pulled the plug on that OS's sorry life. Viewsonic never provided install disks, so even if I wanted to, I can't go back to XP Tablet. And that's fine with me.)

Linux on Viewsonic V1100

Abram's picture

I just bought one of these guys on Ebay, and I'll probably end up installing Debian linux on it. Any tips you had would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to write some tablet oriented software too, if I have the time.

-Abram

RE: Suse 10.0 on a Viewsonic V1100

flens's picture

Hi,
I edited my xorg.conf like this.

....
Section "InputDevice"
Driver "wacom"
Identifier "cursor"
Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
Option "ButtomX" "30000"
Option "Mode" "Absolute"
Option "Type" "cursor"
Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
Driver "wacom"
Identifier "stylus"
Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
Option "ButtomX" "30000"
Option "Mode" "Absolute"
Option "Type" "stylus"
Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
Driver "wacom"
Identifier "eraser"
Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0" # SERIAL ONLY
Option "Type" "eraser"
Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4" # Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection
....
Section "ServerLayout"
Identifier "Layout[all]"
InputDevice "cursor" "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice "stylus" "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice "eraser" "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice "Keyboard[0]" "CoreKeyboard"
InputDevice "Mouse[1]" "CorePointer"
Option "Clone" "off"
Option "Xinerama" "off"
Screen "Screen[0]"
EndSection
....

It solved my problems with the pen.
flens

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