Input methods

From postmarketOS
Jump to navigation Jump to search


There are, in theory, several ways to input text on pmOS already. These are:

  • Matchbox-keyboard - a lightweight on-screen keyboard for X11.
  • QT virtual keyboard, used in Plasma Mobile.
  • Hardware keyboards, e.g. on devices such as the Nokia N900 or the Droid 4.
  • Bluetooth and other wireless keyboards (if support exists for Bluetooth devices).

This page intends to track these as well as other, novel, input methods.

Conventional on-screen keyboards


Ubuntu used to come with Onboard, which is actually designed not for tablets, but as an assistive technology in conjunction with an external pointing device.


Maliit is a cross-platform text-input system based on client-server model. Input methods are supported by plugins, which means it is quite extensible.


Other options might include:

  • GOK (The Gnome on-screen keyboard), which apparently has won awards.
  • Florence, a virtual keyboard for X11.
  • xvkbd, a virtual keyboard for X11, with word completion and a few other features.

Chorded keyboards

GKOS is an implementation of a chorded keyboard that is semi-open. A chord for a musician is a combination of three or more notes that create a new note; the chorded keyboard is analogous to this in that key presses are created by combinations of a few key presses, albeit the GKOS method only uses single button presses or a combination of two presses.

Unfortunately, GKOS's apps are not open-source. However, the standard itself is straightforward to implement either in hardware or software, and is entirely suitable for handhelds and PDAs.

According to its website, GKOS has been superseded by ComboKey. The ComboKey seems to apply some of the ideas behind the GKOS system to a user using the device single-handedly in a tight area.

Handwriting/pointer-based systems

Graffiti and Quikwriting

Graffiti was the single-stroke handwriting system for Palm OS. It was the subject of a lawsuit from Xerox, which Palm lost.

Quikwriting was a research project that produced an alternative to the Graffiti method of text input. There is an open-source implementation called QWO. It is a little awkward to use, but it does work rather well, once one learns. See

Other relevant links regarding Graffitti:


Similarly to Quikwriting, Cellwriter is the product of a research project. It is an accomplished handwriting system:


Dasher is a keyboard designed for when one only has a single pointing device and one wants to work quickly. To that extent it may be especially convenient for devices with styluses. It is free software and is designed also for accessibility to the impaired.