Linux and touchscreen

Get the best out of your touchscreen and stylus on Linux.

⚠ Those tweaks were made on Arch Linux, if you are using a different Linux distribution, you might not need some of them or the instructions might be different.

GNOME

I am really surprised how good GNOME is on touchscreen. Including stylus support.

Thank you GNOME foundation and contributors 🖤.

Screen rotation

Install iio-sensor-proxy.

With a GNOME 3.18 (or newer) based system, orientation changes will automatically be applied when rotating the panel, ambient light will be used to change the screen brightness, and Geoclue will be able to read the compass data to show the direction in Maps.

-- iio-sensory-proxy

Additionally GNOME will add an icon to toggle screen rotation in the status.

Screen rotation enabled in GNOME status
Screen rotation disabled in GNOME status

Gestures

See GNOME Touchscreen Gestures

There seems to be one outdated information.

Slide up from the bottom screen edge.

Opens the virtual keyboard, not the Message Tray.

Keyboard

The default keyboard is pretty good but is too limited for the terminal and applications not fully integrated with the GNOME desktop.

Such as text editing applications lacking support for the awesome GNOME native zoom and text selection.

GNOME text zoom and selection on touchscreen

Somewhere, I found gsettings set org.gnome.shell.keyboard keyboard-type tablet. Unfortunally this specific value does not seem to do anything. A search in the code does not yield anything.

Update: I sent a merge request to remove the setting.

But I found an extension, Improve Onscreen Keyboard.

This is an extension that makes Gnome's onscreen keyboard (the fully javascript one, not caribou) more useable.
  • Arrow keys
  • Esc + Tab + Ctrl + Alt keys
  • F1 to F12 keys (see symbols layer)
  • Resizes workspace

-- github.com/schuhumi/gnome-extension-improve-osk

Many thanks to the author!

Unfortunally it removes the emoji picker. I'll see if I can send a pull request.

Before

Before GNOME extension improve onscreen keyboard

After

After GNOME extension improve onscreen keyboard

Firefox

I really enjoy GNOME Web on the touchscreen and the support for Firefox Sync has made using it a pretty seemless experience. However sometimes I need to use Firefox.

Enable Wayland backend

Wayland backend improves touchscreen support, at least it fixes GNOME virtual keyboard not showing up on input focus.

You can do so by adding GDK_BACKEND=wayland to your firefox.desktop file entry. See Modify environment variables. An other option is to install fedora-firefox-wayland-bin.

The first option also works for Beta, Developer Edition and Nightly flavors of Firefox.

Drag windows

Unfortunally, even with Wayland/GTK3, Firefox windows are not movable through dragging the tabs bar. On a keyboard it's not an issue as I use keyboard shortcut to move windows around but on touchscreen it prevents me from doing split screen. Go to about:config and set browser.tabs.drawInTitlebar to false.

Density

By default the density of UI elements is just too small for touchscreen. Fortunally Firefox offers a convenient option to optimize the experience on touchscreen. Go to about:config and set browser.uidensity to true.