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Upcoming Ubuntu release 10.10 to have built-in multitouch support

Apparently, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth believes that multitouch is every bit as useful on the desktop as it is for mobile devices and smartphones. In fact, he believes in it so much that the upcoming release of Ubuntu, codenamed Maverick Meerkat, will ship with some form of multitouch support built into the OS.

Read on for more information.

If one stops to think for a while, it might be a little ironical that the mad rush to provide the best multitouch computing experience started out with Apple announcing such support for its trackpads. However, regardless of its humble origins, multitouch soon caught on: Windows now offers native multitouch support on Windows 7, and popular smartphone OSes such as iOS and Android offer decent multitouch support as well.

Of course, with Android itself being based on the Linux kernel, it was only a matter of time before multitouch support found its way to more mainstream desktop Linux integration. However, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth has thrown his weight behind faster adoption of multitouch on the Linux desktop. While the current Ubuntu release already features single-touch support, it is not enough for Shuttleworth, who announced in his blog that Ubuntu 10.10 (codenamed Maverick Meerkat) will sport multitouch features.

In his blog post, Shuttleworth described the feature as going beyond simple multitouch gestures. For best results, he also recommended that users get devices which support up to 4-finger touch.

“Rather than single, magic gestures, we’re making it possible for basic gestures to be chained, or composed, into more sophisticated “sentences”,” he wrote. “The basic gestures, or primitives, are like individual verbs, and stringing them together allows for richer interactions. It’s not quite the difference between banging rocks together and conducting a symphony orchestra, but it feels like a good step in the right direction.”

He assured users that the Ubuntu development team will be contributing the codes back upstream, where they may be absorbed into the main development tress of other projects.

“There will be patches for Gtk, there is code for X and I think Qt is in the same position,” he wrote in response to queries about code portability on other platforms.

Shuttleworth also claimed that certain GTK-based applications will support gesture-scrolling in Ubuntu 10.10 , much like how scrolling is done on most touchscreen-enabled smartphones.

“We’ll enhance Evince to show some of the richer interactions that developers might want to add to their apps. Window management will be gesture-enabled in Unity, so 10.10 Netbook Edition users with touch screens or multi-touch pads will have sophisticated window management at their fingertips,” he wrote.

And what of releases after Maverick?

“It would be awesome to have touch-aware versions of all the major apps – browser, email, file management, chat, photo management and media playback – for 11.04,” he wrote.

Yep, you read it right: touch-aware for all the major applications that come standard in most Linux distributions. Seems like the next couple of years will be an extremely exciting time for desktop Linux development.

Source: Mark Shuttleworth’s blog

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