Keyboard Debate

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The default touchscreen keyboard in Om 2009 is the Illume keyboard.


Summary of the problem

Om 2008.8 uses Qtopia for its phone stack. Qtopia has a build-in keyboard primarily designed to compose SMS in English. This keyboard is very impractical to use with a terminal or enter an URL.

More details..., list of all keyboard bugs in the defect tracking system.

List of available keyboards

Qtopia keyboard

The Qtopia keyboard build-in Om 2008.8. See also the documentation at Trolltech

ASU Keyboard
ASU Keyboard with hello
ASU Keyboard with numeric keys

Matchbox keyboard

The matchbox keyboard. See also homepage of Matchbox keyboard and Matchbox stroke.
Screenshot of the keyboard applet on 2007.2

Illume keyboard

Main article: Illume keyboard

The illume virtual keyboard a.k.a. Raster's keyboard.


qwo Quikwriting for Openmoko keyboard

It is hard to call this a key-board, it looks more like a pair of Ouija board than a matrix of buttons. But as far as an touchscreen input method for letters, this one allows the stylus to remain on the screen and move continuously. Needs a few hours of practice before writing words fluently.

Vkbd system

The vkbd system.

List of keyboard-related Howtos

How to use the Qtopia keyboard shipped with Om 2008.8 ?


  • Slide finger left = backspace.
  • Slide finger right = space.
  • Slide finger up/down = changes between lowercase/uppercase/numbers/special characters.
  • The 'Enter' key is bottom right on the special characters page
  • Hovering over a letter for more than 2 seconds activates zoom mode, allowing you to type specific letters without prediction.

Detailed version: see How to use the Qtopia keyboard.

How to have a toggle button to make the keyboard appear/disappear ?

Short answer: In 2008.8, opkg install illume-config. In testing, edit '/etc/enlightenment/default_profile' to use illume theme instead of 'asu'. Long answer: here.

How to install the matchbox keyboard ?

Short answer: opkg install matchbox-keyboard-applet matchbox-keyboard-inputmethod Long answer: here.

How to install the illume (Raster's) keyboard ?

Main article: Illume_keyboard#How_to_install

How to turn off the Qtopia keyboard ?

Short answer: Add the line export QTOPIA_NO_VIRTUAL_KEYBOARD=1 into the file /etc/X11/Xsession.d/89qtopia.

Warning: Even when you install another keyboard, if you do not turn off the Qtopia keyboard it will come back on the top to bite you trollishly. References: Comment on ticket 1864, and untested proposed patch to qpe. If you use base-image (testing) don't forget to set E_PROFILE="-profile illume" in /etc/enlightenment/default_profile see [1]

How to change the keyboards layout ?



See instructions on the Change matchbox keyboard layout page.

illume keyboard

Main article: Illume_keyboard#Localization

How to change the dictionary used by the predictive keyboards ?

Qtopia keyboard

You can compile your own wordlist or use precompiled wordlists.

From the Openwall project

This method retrieves wordlists with lower case words only, not including proper names. This is not sufficient for languages with capitalized nouns, such as german. Precompiled openwall words.dawg can be found at: . To compile the openwall wordlist on your Linux box:
tar xvf qtopia-italian-keyboard.tar.bz2
gunzip lower.gz
./qdawggen -d lang_LANG lower
mv lang_LANG/lower.dawg words.dawg

Other sources

A better german wordlist, including proper names and nouns, can be downloaded from . It is based on the Debian package "wngerman".

Installing the words.dawg file

First, move the English dictionary out of the way, on your Neo:
cd /opt/Qtopia/etc/dict/
cp -r en_EN lang_LANG

Second, back on your Linux box, send the dictionary (overwriting the existing words.dawg in the new directory):
scp words.dawg root@
Third, edit /opt/Qtopia/etc/default/Trolltech/locale.conf to change the language
InputLanguages = lang_LANG
Language = lang_LANG
Fourth, restart X or reboot your Neo.

Illume keyboard

Main article: Illume_keyboard#How_to_import_dictionaries

Other keyboards

Matchbox has no predictive mode (to be confirmed ?).

How to toggle the predictive mode on and off ?

Quick and Dirty version of toggle the predictive mode on and off is a small script that renames the dictionary words.dawg to and back. The dict is still loaded, but after restart you can work without predictive mode, because the the predictive mode is dependend on the dictionary. You can find the dictionary in the folder /opt/Qtopia/etc/dict/en_US

How to make Qtopia keyboards and illume/raster keyboard coexist ?


Your short-term options

Even if things might look bad, you shouldn't assume that they are
  • Turn off the Qtopia keyboard and install the matchbox one instead.
  • Keep the Qtopia keyboard, let go (for a while) the desire to use the terminal locally, login remotely via ssh when you need.
  • Get an external keyboard, USB or Bluetooth, light and foldable if you want.
  • Switch to 2007.2 (but then similar issues arise : Switching Keyboards on Om 2007.2), FSO or Debian.
  • Patch Qtopia so that it plays nice with other keyboards, send upstream, meanwhile recompile and provide a package.

PS: Complaining that management does not listen to the users needs is not a productive option.

Perspectives for long-term resolution

On August 27th 2008, Marek from Openmoko inc. announced the intention to focus on the low-level layers. Future "base system" distribution may not include any phone stack at all.

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