Running out of buttons

After using Autohotkey for remapping, I soon didn't have enough keyboard buttons to attach macros or scripts to them, so I'd have to make new scripts that use the same button. After more scripts, it can be easy to forget which button does what.

Customizable, expensive, physical keyboards

There are companies that provide custom overlays for their own massive, custom keyboards, such as The Enterpad, which is $300. There's the E-inkey Keyboard concept. The Optimus Popularis keyboard, which has customizable OLED screens, is $1000!

Tablet as a customizable, virtual keyboard

With a touchscreen, you could pretty much design whatever virtual keyboard you want, have multiple virtual keyboard layers, and design the buttons to look however you want. Could you use an Ubuntu tablet as a virtual keyboard for your desktop?

VNC and remote control of desktop

There's remote control of Ubuntu with android-vnc-viewer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTKX6QMBgck#t=0m30s), but you're moving a mouse cursor with your fingers, and the interaction is supposedly not as smooth. The newly announced Ubuntu for mobile could make controlling an Ubuntu desktop more seamless.

Design your own buttons

Aside from the scripting that could be behind the buttons (you would probably use something like AutoKey (http://code.google.com/p/autokey/), a desktop automation utility for Linux), I'm not sure what methods and tools that are out there to design your own buttons. Does anyone know anything that can help create your own keyboard and buttons?


  • Can you be more specific on what you want to do here? do you want to use a tablet as a keyboard for Ubuntu? Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 21:02
  • Yes. Use an Ubuntu or Android tablet as a keyboard for Ubuntu.
    – Jeff Kang
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 18:53
  • There are some Android apps that can do that exactly, one of them is RemoteDroid you can find it in the Play Store. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


This is not an answer for designing custom-looking keyboard buttons, but if you're content with attaching macros in scripts to the typical, regular buttons of a hard keyboard, I asked a question on superuser.com: How would you turn a tablet into a keyboard + easy-to-reach touchscreen (mirror the desktop) (not a touchpad) for a desktop PC?. You can do the following:

android-vnc-viewer to mirror the desktop PC screen, and control the desktop

I had another question on android.stackexchange.com: (In using a VNC to control a computer, is it possible to have the cursor go to where you touch? - android[dot]stackexchange[dot]com/questions/34668/in-using-a-vnc-to-control-a-computer-is-it-possible-to-have-the-cursor-go-to-wh)

In the question, I included a video: Remote control of Ubuntu with android-vnc-viewer - www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTKX6QMBgck#t=0m30s


“See and control your computer's desktop from your phone, from anywhere. androidVNC is the Open Source (GPL) remote desktop program for Android devices. Connects to most VNC servers: incl TightVNC, RealVNC on Win and Linux, x11vnc, and Apple Remote Desktop on OS/X.”.

In the video, I don't know the input mode that is being demonstrated at 0:30, but it looks like the mouse cursor goes to where he touches.


I'm guessing that the input mode in the video was either:

Touch Mouse Pan and Zoom
This is the default input mode and is designed to work like the Android browser. You can both pan the display and control the mouse using the touchscreen and gestures. You pan by dragging or flicking on the touchscreen; you click the mouse by tapping on it. You right-click by double-tapping (or by holding down the camera button while tapping). You drag the mouse by doing a long press on the display, and then dragging. In this mode the trackball or DPad (if your phone has one) can also be used to control the mouse; this may give you finer control. You can zoom the screen size with the +/- buttons, or, if your device supports multi-touch and has Android 2.0+, you can pinch to zoom out and spread to zoom in.


Mouse Control Mode
In this mode, use the touchscreen to control the mouse. Touching the screen generates a mouse click at that point; dragging on the screen creates a mouse drag. Keyboard events are sent as normal. The trackball is used to send arrow-key events to the VNC server. Pressing the trackball toggles between Mouse Pointer Control and Desktop Panning modes.

Port forwarding

If the PC you're connecting to accesses the internet through a router, this will be the WAN address assigned to the router by your ISP; you'll also need to forward the VNC port (5900) from the router to your PC (exactly how you do this depends on the details of your router, so I can't give more explicit instructions here).

Hacker's Keyboard - use a full soft keyboard on Android

From what I've read, the stock android keyboard doesn't have buttons such as Ctrl, Alt, Esc, arrow keys, Home, End, and Delete.

You can use the free, open source, app call Hacker's Keyboard to gain access to the buttons of a full keyboard:

“Are you missing the key layout you're used to from your computer? This keyboard has separate number keys, punctuation in the usual places, and arrow keys. It is based on the AOSP Gingerbread soft keyboard, so it supports multitouch for the modifier keys.

This keyboard is especially useful if you use ConnectBot for SSH access. It provides working Tab/Ctrl/Esc keys, and the arrow keys are essential for devices such as the Xoom tablet or Nexus S that don't have a trackball or D-Pad.”


A patch that allows android-vnc-viewer to recognize all the keys of Hacker's Keyboard

In “Frequently Asked Questions” of Hacker's Keyboard, there's a section called “Android VNC Viewer doesn't recognize the extra keys”.

It directs you to an issue called “Issue 238: Support additional keys, fix modifier handling” (code.google.com/p/android-vnc-viewer/issues/detail?id=238). The patch there will make it so that Android VNC Viewer recognizes buttons of a full keyboard.

Update: bVNC

bVNC is a secure, open source VNC client.

  • Tested with Hackerskeyboard. Using it is recommended (get hackers keyboard from Google Play).



Update 2: Jump Desktop VNC

I currently and personally use Jump Desktop VNC because the “bring-out-the-keyboard” is close, and easily reachable. With bVNC, I have to tap near the middle of the screen, and then I press a keyboard button on the right to bring out the keyboard. Jump Desktop VNC also lets you use a Google account, so you don’t have to deal with addresses.

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