CS 4540 Project Website - Spring 2007

virtualroadside.com: [home] [roadside] [blog] [geoHist]

howto / references

Note: I have totally revamped my carputer, I need to get around to updating these pages...

There are a number of sources that were used to determine how to install the software components that this project used. Like any open source project, most of the documentation describing things can be found using google. However, here are links to the most useful ones, and our own howto notes. :)

General Reference

The software walkthrough at https://www.timekiller.org/carpc/software.php is definitely a good reference/walkthrough if you've never used Linux before and are interested in setting up a car computer. I didn't really use a lot of the stuff there, but his notes on the touchscreen drivers are especially useful.

Additionally, I found the forums at http://www.mp3car.com to be simply invaluable for a lot of questions about electronics, software, and pretty much anything to do with car computing.

Installing Gentoo


The Gentoo Handbook is simply the best resource for you if you're new to Gentoo. Its even useful after installation. Gentoo now emphasizes a stage 3 (binary) installation procedure, but I used the stage 1 procedure anyways since I've been using Gentoo for many years and it seems to be the natural way to install Gentoo. :)

Installing Openchrome


Actually, I'm using the experimental branch of the openchrome drivers, to see if maybe that will increae performance. I don't really notice much of a difference however. My xorg.conf file can be downloaded here: xorg.conf. Be warned, this is not a perfect layout (yet).

Installing the touchscreen

I used the evtouch driver that you can download at http://stz-softwaretechnik.com/~ke/touchscreen/evtouch.html . You can follow the instructions maintained there to install your touchscreen drivers for Xorg. Despite that it says it is designed for Xorg 6.9, I have used it successfully in Xorg 7.1 and 7.2 without any serious problems.

Other resources:

http://linux.chapter7.ch/touchkit/mini-howto.txt (very useful!)

evtouch causes two clicks to happen! WTF?

There are two solutions to this that I know of, one that works nicely if you have another mouse on the system, and one that works no matter what.

Solution 1 (one that works well for me)

In the InputDevice section where you specify your configuration values (MinX, MinY, etc), you need to set 'TapTimer' to 0, like so:

    Option   "TapTimer"   "0"

By default it is set to 200ms, and that causes the click to happen twice for some reason. I found this solution at http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-238655-highlight-evtouch.html

Solution 2 (requires you to have another mouse on the system)

It has been reported that this problem happens if you use /dev/input/mice instead of the specific event for your mouse -- this causes  the touchscreen's click to get clicked twice, once by the generic event, and once by the touchscreen driver. This is compounded by the TapTimer setting, I suspect. 

The biggest problem I found with this solution (and the reason it didn't work for me) is that this only will work when you have two mice -- if you only have the touchscreen, then for some reason Xorg will setup a "DefaultPointer" pointing to /dev/input/mice anyways, and there doesn't seem to be a way to change it.

I found this at https://www.timekiller.org/carpc/software.php#evtouchdoubleclick.

Installing Roadnav

Roadnav is IMHO the best open source GPS software out there right now (and touchpad friendly too even!), at least with the improvements they made with the 0.18 alpha version.


Installing "Talking Fortune"

This program uses fortune to display a random fortune on the screen and in addition, it talks to you by reading the random fortune over the speakers. Festival is used to read the text and put it into speech for hearing over the speakers. The program runs on startup. A script file was created to incorporate both of the programs to make this program executable. Zenity is used to display the fortune on the screen. You can download it, then setup your own window manager to run it on startup.

Download talkingfortune.sh here.

Installing custom bootsplash logo


Installing custom on screen keyboard

To install the on screen keyboard, you need to download this portage overlay here: onboard-0.85.tar.bz2. After you download the portage overlay, then you can install it using the instructions found here: http://gentoo-wiki.com/HOWTO_Installing_3rd_Party_Ebuilds


There are a number of things I have experimented with, and most of the ideas haven't worked out so well yet. I have my boot time down to 20-30 seconds or so. The biggest thing that has made an impact is my upgrade to baselayout-2, which is still in alpha right now. It shaved a good 30 seconds off of my boot time. The idea behind baselayout-2 is it replaces a lot of the core bootup scripts with C compiled versions instead -- which is way faster than new instances of bash each time. I still have a few issues though..

Lilliput EBY-701 Auto-Power On Code

I have an M2-ATX, which automatically starts the computer when my car starts. I have my Lilliput monitor connected directly to the 12V out on the M2-ATX, so it gets power only when the computer's power is on. However, it gets really annoying really fast when you have to turn the stupid monitor on every time you start the car. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except for some reason if the monitor isn't on when the computer starts booting then it won't display any video... it's really weird, and I'm not quite sure how to fix that.

I found this tip at mp3car.com (link), but heres how you can do that without having to go through that thread (though, it has references on how you can make it work for other lilliput models too).

That should do it for ya. Its a nice feature to have on. The menu has a lot of other random options you can check out too.


The best thing about having a normal linux distribution with no size constraints in it is that you can install whatever software you want on it, just like you would your desktop! Any 'normal' software that one would install on a 'normal' linux computer, can be installed on this computer as well. If you decide to do something like this, keep that in mind when you're installing software!

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