It's no secret that the range of hardware support on Linux, especially in niches such as digital art, is limited to say the least. However, the solution for the most determined and perseverant Linux users who pride themselves on their love for the creative professions has been open source development projects that enable support for specialist hardware like drawing tablets and smart tablets.
So is the case here also; an open souce project called Tuhi, brought to you by two Red Hat developers, seeks to bring support for Wacom SmartPads to Linux.
Their open source tool allows users to connect to and download drawings from Wacom SmartPad devices like the Bamboo Slate and Bamboo Spark, thanks to some reverse engineering of existing tools such as the Wacom Inkspace ultilty.
Their 'Tuhi' project aims to work with the following Wacom SmartPad devices on Linux:
- Wacom Bamboo Spark
- Wacom Bamboo Slate
- Wacom Bamboo Folio
- Wacom Intuos Pro Paper
(Note: While the Intuos Pro Paper is unsupported as of yet, a tool for it is meant to be in the pipeline according to the Tuhi developers.)
The Bamboo Slate is an interesting case here, as it can also be used as a regular drawing tablet/ pen input device, allowing an even broader set of applications and wider implications for creative Linux users.
However, don't expect full stability or daily driver use just yet; Tuhi is still in early stages of its development, and users are being told by the Tuhi developers to expect "some rough edges" (excuse the abysmal pun).
Furthermore, due to limitations with the way Wacom devices authenticate with their own native utilities, you can only pair your SmartPad with one device at a time. If you try Tuhi out on Linux you won't be able to access your drawings and notes in the Inkspace app on your mobile device until you re-pair it, and vice versa. This might be a dealbreaker for certain users who wish to keep everything in sync on the go but we expect that this issue should be ironed out by the final release.
The developers say the 'next step' for the utility is to create a dedicated GUI application for Linux that will allow users to easily pull drawings off of SmartPads and mobile devices to then move and use into Inkscape.
You can grab the utility and the source code from GitHub here:
What do you guys think? Would you use a utility like this? Are you excited to see more niche hardware support come to Linux and Linux-based devices? Let us know in the comments, or post over on our forums with your thoughts.