CS 4540 Project Website - Spring 2007

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


Note: I have totally revamped my carputer, I need to get around to updating these pages... I don't use Gentoo anymore, I use Ubuntu Mobile Edition (its very touchscreen friendly!)

There are a variety of specialized software packages that we installed on the system. My philosophy was simple: I didn't want a keyboard in my setup if at all possible, since that would be annoying for most tasks. I think that has mostly been accomplished.

The base install system is Gentoo Linux, and is running Xfce 4.4 as the desktop manager. Here is a list of the things that DO work nicely.

Name Description Notes
Gentoo Linux Linux Distribution Did a stage 1 install
Xfce 4.4 Desktop software Currently marked as experimental in the portage tree. It is a lightweight desktop available for Linux, and reminds me of a Mac. Very easy to use/configure, and touchpad friendly. However, it interacts with the touchscreen oddly.
Onboard On screen keyboard Dustin ported the Ubuntu on screen keyboard over to Gentoo, and it has been submitted to bugs.gentoo.org for inclusion in the main portage tree (link). You can download the portage overlay for it with this link. onboard-0.85.tar.bz2. Refer to this page for more information on how to install 3rd party ebuilds using a portage overlay.
RoadNav GPS Software Using the alpha release of v0.18. I seriously cannot say enough about this new release of RoadNav, its definitely a huge improvement over the last version and is way more touchscreen friendly. I don't have a single complaint about this software (as of now). However, I do need to find a way to integrate Amarok controls into it somehow... :)
OpenChrome Video Drivers The board we're using has a Via Unichrome Pro video card. We are using the OpenChrome driver as our xorg driver. We are using the latest build from subversion.
evtouch Touchscreen Driver The first version of evtouch was annoying to install, but I like the newer (0.84) version very much. The calibration was a PAIN however. You need to run ./configure with --enable-calibration to enable building of the calibration program. It only partially ran on my system, but after a bit of playing around it works well.
Amarok Music Player Installed from portage.
geoHist GPSD Logging Software I created the software geoHist because I couldn't find a decent standalone GPS data logging program for GPSD and MySQL.

At the moment, it seems like the best frontend for my purposes is just a normal desktop, with the icon size increased so I could click on the icons with the touchpad easily. I made shortcuts for Amarok and Roadnav, and really at the moment (until I get my wireless card in), this seems like the best way to do it.

Now, we tried a number of packages that for one reason or another, just did not work well for us at all. Here is an incomplete list of (mostly frontends) software that did NOT work well.

Name Description Notes
PyCar Frontend This looked very promising as a frontend. It offered integration into a lot of useful components (music, GPS, etc) and even was easily extensible with Python. However, the thing had WAY too many dependencies for running it. It seems like every time we installed one dependency, another one popped up. After spending a couple hours trying to get this thing to compile, I gave up.
nGhost Media Center Frontend This also looked very promising, and actually compiled/installed after a few tries. However, everything in it was fixed, and didn't appear to be easily configurable. So this didn't work either.
MythTV Frontend Also promising, but it crashed when I installed MythMusic. Since Myth is in the portage tree, it was simple to install. However, it had way too many options that weren't useful and I really didn't feel like making a new skin for it. Additionally, it is NOT touchpad friendly at all.
GPSDrive GPS Software I couldn't download maps correctly at first. And, the maps, when downloaded, were at particular resolutions and didn't work well when being zoomed in/out.
AmarokFS Frontend I did actually take the time to configure this software, and it works quite well. However, I couldn't switch to another application easily at all. Exiting the application is a pain with a touchscreen too. And, it doesn't support visualizations, which would be something needed for an audio player taking up the whole screen. I'd rather have a GPS app taking up the screen, its more useful.
Fluxbox Desktop Environment I've used fluxbox before, and its quite nice when you have a mouse, since it supports all kinds of nice visual effects and skins. It also strikes me as being quite 'clean'. However, if you don't have a mouse, forget about it.

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