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Ubuntu Linux 10.10 Meerkat Poised to Get 'Touchy' - page 2

Multi-touch Interaction

  • August 16, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

There are a number of challenges that Ubuntu developers are facing when it comes to developing multi-touch capabilities. Among those is defining exactly what constitutes an actual "multi-touch" device.

"People will call something a multi-touch device if you can touch it more than once at the same time," Shuttleworth said. "We've drawn a line and said we want at least four clear finger sync signals from the device. So you need to be able to do sophisticated gestures with four fingers."

Shuttleworth noted that relatively few devices deliver true multi-touch capabilities today, though he expects that to change over time.

The other challenge will be about ensuring that application vendors utilize the distro's multi-touch support. Thus far, Ubuntu has been in conversation with at least one major vendor, open source application developer Mozilla, with an eye to ensuring its Firefox Web browser can tap into Ubuntu's UTouch framework.

"It is my hope is that as soon as Firefox 4 goes into Ubuntu, we'll be able to turn multi-touch on for it," Shuttleworth said. "There have been some back-channel conversations to that effect, but not to the point where there is a firm commitment from either side."

Expanding multi-touch beyond just the Ubuntu 10.10 release to help enable the entire Linux desktop ecosystem is also something that Shuttleworth would like to see happen. In particular, he noted that Ubuntu's multi-touch efforts are all open source, which he sees as potentially paving the way for broader adoption even among Ubuntu's rival Linux distributions.

"We are not aware of any other work that is going on, so this shouldn't collide with other work. But we can't guarantee adoption," Shuttleworth said. "There is technically no reason why anybody might not adopt this -- there is no licensing issue that would preclude that -- and we'd be delighted if other distros pick it up."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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