CellWriter: Handwritting Recognition for GNOME
Windows Vista and, I presume, Windows XP comes with a very nice onscreen keyboard to be used with the Tablet PCs. It supports handwriting recognition and keyboard emulation, which makes it a very good application. Linux does not come with such an onscreen keyboard by default, because there aren’t any mainstream ones. Sure, there is GNOME’s Onboard, but frankly I never managed to get it work. Also there is xstroke, but I can’t even find that in the Ubuntu repository. Luckily I managed to stumble across a new project that was planning to implement such a think for Linux, using the GTK library which made it perfect to be used with Ubuntu. I first stumbled across CellWriter while reading Danny’s blog. The following video is a small demonstration of the functionality of cellwriter.
To install it on Ubuntu Linux, all you have to do is type in:
sudo aptitude install cellwriter
And execute it from the menu, where it can be found as Applications->Universal Access->CellWriter. The application will open as a window that is always on top, but you can also configure it to dock at the bottom or top like Yakuake. It does not support automatic hiding yet, but hopefully later versions will.
It is also possible to start it at the login window, so you do not need a keyboard to login. A bit of work is required to accomplish it and you will loose the ability to have a fancy login theme. If you use any of the picture based themes, CellWrite will always be hidden behind it. So the first step is to enable a simple theme. You do this by opening the Login Window tool located under System->Administration. Then press the Local tab, look for a setting called “Style” and set it to “Plain with Face Browser”. You do not need the face browser, but it is very convenient because it allows you to tap the username instead of having to type it in. Close the window.
The next step is to add CellWriter to the list of applications to be exectued when GDM (the login manager) starts up. You do this by editing one of the files located in the /etc directory. To be more specific, you need to open up the /etc/gdm/Init/Default file by typing in the following into a Terminal window:
sudo gedit /etc/gdm/Init/Default
Then at the end of the file, but before exit 0, type in the following line:
Make sure to end it with the & symbol, because otherwise the script won’t progress further and GDM will not start.
That is it! Next time you want to login, you will be able to use CellWriter to write in your password using your stylus. You will also need to train it again, because it is not running as a specific user so it does not have access to his writing samples. But other than that it is perfect. Oh, and I recommend you use one of the docking options to dock CellWriter to the bottom of the screen. I find that it gives the maximum usability.