Canonical says Ubuntu 10.10 the first OS to support multitouch

Open source developer Canonical said that Ubuntu 10.10 will be the first operating system to support multitouch.

In a blog post the company said multitouch will arrive on the operating system, which goes by the name of Maverick Meerkat, following the release of uTouch 1.0, the stack for gesture and multitouch support in Canonical’s systems.

It said its multi-touch team had worked closely with the Linux kernel and communities to improve drivers, add support for missing features, and participate in the touch advances being made in open source world. To complete the stack, it said it had created an open source gesture recognition engine and defined a gesture API that provided a means for applications to obtain and use gesture events from the uTouch gesture engine.

“With Ubuntu 10.10 (the Maverick Meerkat), users and developers will have an end-to-end touch-screen framework — from the kernel all the way through to applications,” Canonical said in its post.

However, according to Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the company, users would need a “four-finger touch or better to get the most out of it.”

“Rather than single, magic gestures, we’re making it possible for basic gestures to be chained, or composed, into more sophisticated ‘sentences’,” he said in his blog post.

“The basic gestures, or primitives, are like individual verbs, and stringing them together allows for richer interactions.

“It’s not quite the difference between banging rocks together and conducting a symphony orchestra, but it feels like a good step in the right direction,” he added.

The company said it is using the Dell XT2 as the development environment. Shuttleworth added that by the expected October release date, the company expected that users would be able to use it with a range of devices from major manufacturers, and with addons like Apple’s Magic Trackpad.