I am have a Thinkpad X220T with the multitouch screen. This model comes with two options for the screen, only one has the multitouch capabilities. My question is strictly about touchscreen NOT the multi touch touchpad.

I found it very hard to find confirmation if multi touch on this model works or not, and if so, how well? So in this question I will focus primarily on how to improve multi touch interaction on this device. I am using Ubuntu 12.04.

  • What are my top options for on-screen keyboard and how can I enable them?
  • Can I use multitouch gestures to switch between apps, desktops and zoom in an out of applications while in tablet mode?
  • How many touch points are registered by the system at most? How can I test this?
  • Is multi touch stack stable enough for daily use?
  • How do I get the screen rotation button to work and how do I make pen reference rotate with it, so the pen works correctly in any rotation.
  • How can I use multitouch games that are available from the the software repository? On first try, it seems that touch points are not registered correctly by these applications.

I will update this question if you require any more information, or tests performed on this laptop.


I'm going to try and answer the rotation / touch interface part.

So basically you can imagine those like having a second desktop upon your desktop. When you rotate your Desktop, you'll then have to do the same with the Touch Interface Desktop.

In general you can manage this rotation via

$ xsetwacom

In my case - I have no knowledge of other tablet devices - the touch desktop consists of three devices: Stylus, Eraser and Touch:

$ xsetwacom --list devices
Wacom Serial Penabled 2FG Touchscreen stylus    id: 14  type: STYLUS    
Wacom Serial Penabled 2FG Touchscreen eraser    id: 15  type: ERASER    
Wacom Serial Penabled 2FG Touchscreen touch     id: 16  type: TOUCH 

So whereever you rotate you screen you will also have to call xsetwacom for every one of the three devices to reflect the change:

$ xsetwacom set <device_id> rotate <none|ccw|cw|half>

Appropriate places for touch rotation are everywhere, where there is a rotation made by xrandr. However you cannot directly hook into xrandr, but must find the places where xrandr rotations are called.

I for example am using the Monitor Status Indicator Extension for the GNOME-Shell, with this modification for touch rotation: https://gist.github.com/2331837

Good luck with the rest! ;)

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  • Thanks for you answer. Screen rotation was my biggest issue and this solved my problem so I am going to accept your answer. I think I made a mistake of asking too many questions at once, so in future I will try to break them up into several question. – Aras May 9 '12 at 5:07

Alright, here's my share then :) I bought a convertible laptop/tablet half a year ago with a stylus and touch option. Not the same model or even brand as you, but hopefully this answer is still useful to you.

For on-screen keyboard I prefer Onboard, which I think comes by default. Otherwise it is available through the repositories. It is quite well customisable (if you put some effort into it you can design your own keyboard layout and themes, or just use the built-in ones) and does pretty much what you need it to do. It lacks advanced stuff such as macro actions. Also, I haven't been able to get it to work in the Dash.

Interesting multitouch features are available through Ginn, which in my humble opinion is a pretty decent piece of software. It's not the easiest thing to alter but gives you a lot of options by linking gestures with key presses. Two-finger scrolling works by default 9), the things you mention (zooming in and out, swiping through applications) is as far as I know not yet supported. I see you already got your laptop, take a look at /etc/ginn/wishes.xml. Hmm, come to think of it, if you play around a bit with Ginn and Compiz, perhaps you can bind a two finger pinch to the Enhanced Desktop Zoom plugin?

mweinelt post on rotation is spot on. Works very well for me. I rotate the screen, get the stylus out and read and annotate PDFs on my laptop.

All in all I'd say the touchscreen is usable, even useful, but leaves a few things to be desired. It is most certainly not a slick, neat process as it is with for example Android.

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To those who still want to use all touch features of their convertibles, here is a script which works well on x220t.

The script with which I started is given in the thread above. I just extended it to take values for the stylus in addition to the finger touch. Same approach copy-paste as for the finger, which solves the first issue of Yossi Gil.

I also bumped into the issue of the onscreen keyboard onboard not working with the finger touch. I followed this thread and implemented the solution which worked there.

All in all, finger and stylus touch working, rotation working and onscreen keyboard now working, I would say the tablet mode now works pretty well.

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  • 1
    Welcome to AskUbuntu! Can you please add the workaround to the question? Links don't always stay good. Other than that, good job! – Kaz Wolfe Aug 27 '14 at 21:07
  • You're right, the links may disappear in future. The main paradigm is 1)finding information about the 3 "devices": screen, stylus and finger. 2)Update the commands in the rotation cases if necessary. 3)Play with onboard disable/enable if finger touch does not work on rotation case. Most probably future releases of the onboard will include a check for this, so it might be also unnecessary in future – kalinchernev Oct 6 '14 at 9:55

I have an x220t myself, but I run Ubuntu 11.10 on it. I solved the rotate problem using this tutorial. This tutorial teaches you how to create a script which also rotates the axes of the screen, not only the image. (rotation of the image itself is quite easy, you can do it from the monitors menu). But in order for the trackpad, eraser tip, mouse and stylus to work on a rotated screen, you need to also rotate the axes (see the tutorial mentioned).

However, one problem with that tutorial was that each time I was plugging a new usb device (wireless mouse base, camera, etc) the usb port physical address got changed after restart. So, I asked for a solution and I had this problem solved here with a small addition to the script.

I'm interested to find how can I activate the "rotate" button on the bottom edge of the screen and assign the "rotate" command described above to it. I tried using the typical "create button shortcut" function, but it doesn't seem to work.

Also - I am interested in how we can add multitouch functionalities to the screen (pinch, rotate for pictures, right click on long tap, etc).

Stylus works quite well, I did not get any errors in using it.

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    Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! It seems that some of your answer consists of questions of your own. You may want to ask these questions by posting them separately. – Eliah Kagan Jun 25 '12 at 0:18

In my experience: NO. Just bought X220 tablet, installing 12.04 on it left a lot to be desired.

  • Stylus does not work correct in tablet mode (does not understand rotation)
  • No multi-touchg.
  • No on-screen keyboard
  • Using the stylus may confuse X, in that X thinks you move your mouse while Alt modifier is down, when in fact it is not.

I tried using this new toy with Windows 7, which provides much better support for tablet and stylus, but it is still far from (say) ipad.

One nice thing though is that I am no longer cautious before touching my screen. I know it was designed to be touched.

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    Thats too bad that these dont work as desired out of the box, but I think most of these issues can be addressed with a little bit of tweaking. Not that I think you should have to do that as a user, but at least its possible. I just received mine, so I will try to address these issues one by one and update this question. – Aras May 5 '12 at 4:22
  • Some of these can be fixed, although it requires not so easy tweaking, but I think it would require major work to get the multi-touch to work. Overall, it is moderately annoying but not more than that: The tablet is not such a huge advantage even in Windows 7, which supposedly can make good of use it. You do not miss much anyway. – Yossi Gil May 5 '12 at 10:57

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