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22 November 2006

bought myself a Wacom Graphire 4 tablet pen

Hi everyone,

I've just bought myself a new Wacom Graphire 4 tablet pen. For those that don't know what it is, a tablet pen is essentially a replacement for the mouse in the form of a ballpoint pen. It's a little more than that - it has a base pad (much like a mouse pad) eventually with some buttons and the pen itself also with some buttons.

The tablet pen isn't designed to *replace* the mouse in every situation, but for image editing and creative digital art it's close to mandatory. Anyone serious about the quality of their digital art work (even amateurs like me) must have or at least try a tablet pen.

Now for installation, I went straight The Linux Wacom Project for configuration guidelines. The howto there is one of the most verbose and complete guides I've ever seen (which is generally a good thing, but can discourage some people) and after a couple of minutes, I had everything set up. No external drivers were used, I didn't have to (or want to) touch the included driver and software CDs and every feature of the Graphire 4 was recognized and available for me to use.
Yep, Linux is sweet!
(I'll be posting a quick configuration guide with all the steps I took on my website)

Next step is the actual purpose of the tablet pen - the almighty GIMP. I'm using the development version 2.3.12 and I just had to enable the extra available input devices. That was it! The pen pointer worked as expected, the "rubber" too (once the correct tool is chosen) and overall the experience is a surprisingly natural and precise control of the imaging software - even for the interface itself! I recommend this hardware device for everyone doing image editing or drawing on the computer.

There are downsides, however... GIMP has a very nasty bug (still uncorrected) that crashes when any tool being controlled by the pen in the "touchdown" (equivalent to click & drag) position reaches a limit of the image window. It will surely ruin hours of hard work. The problem is more serious with the rubber due to the accessibility of the buttons near the pen pointer and the function of the bigger button (drag image position) - with the pen pointer it's possible to keep using the pen away from the window edges at all times. Let's hope the stack traces get the developers to fix this as soon as possible:,

That's it for today,
Cheers, PJ.

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