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Open Source Driver For Microsoft Surface 2.0

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the anything-you-can-do dept.

Input Devices 31

dartttt writes "Florian Echtler has developed an open-source driver for the Microsoft Surface 2.0 touch screen. According to him, the open source implementation works surprisingly well on Ubuntu 11.10. The process requires you to boot Linux on your Surface 2.0 in the first place. However, it can be done by just booting Ubuntu from a USB hard disk without modify anything on the original Win7 installation."

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Organized pro-Google trolling campaign on Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974403)

GreatBunzinni [], real name Rui Maciel, has been using anonymous posts [] and sockpuppets to accuse nearly 20 people of being employed by a PR firm to astroturf Slashdot, without any evidence. Using his sockpuppets, he mods up these anonymous posts while modding down the accused in order to filter their viewpoints. GreatBunzinni accidentally outed himself [] as the anonymous troll who has been posting these accusations to every Slashdot story. For example, he wrote the same post almost verbatim, first using his logged-in account [] followed by an anonymous post [] days later. Note the use of the same script and wording.

It turns out GreatBunzinni is actually a 31-year-old C++/Java programmer from Almada, Portugal named Rui Maciel, with a civil engineering degree from Instituto Superior Técnico and a hobby working with electronics. He runs Kubuntu and is active on the KDE mailing list. Rui Maciel has accounts at OSNews, Launchpad, ProgrammersHeaven, the Ubuntu forums, and of course Slashdot.

Most of the users who Rui targets have done nothing else but criticize Google for something or praise a competitor. Many of them are subscribers who get the first post because subscribers see stories earlier than non-subscribers. After one of Rui's accusations gets posted, the original post receives a surge of "Troll" and "Overrated" moderations from his sockpuppets, while Rui's posts get modded up. Often, additional anonymous posters will appear to give support and receive upmods. At the same time, accused users who defend themselves are modded "Offtopic."

Rui Maciel's contact information
Email: [mailto], [mailto], or [mailto]
IM: [jabber] (the same Jabber account currently listed on his Slashdot account)
Blog: [] []
Programming projects: [] []

The following accounts have been confirmed to be Rui Maciel, in order of activity. You'll notice that they all share a posting style and often reply to each other:

HarrySquatter []
Galestar []
GameboyRMH []
ZeroSumHappiness []
Jeng []
Nerdfest []
TheNarrator []
flurp []
anonymov []
chrb []
zidium []
NicknameOne []
Nicknamename []
forkfail []
icebike []
ilguido []
psiclops []
Toonol []
russotto []
rreyelts []
symbolset []

tl;dr: An Ubuntu fan named Rui Maciel is waging an organized trolling campaign using multiple sockpuppet accounts to filter Slashdot posts.


Re:Organized pro-Google trolling campaign on Slash (1)

perles (1855088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995831)

I am currently experiencing such thing. I got my comment on how Google Gmail is getting worse in another thread ( Even though some folks have evaluated as insightful I have seen it loosing points every couple of days. Also an anonymous commented there very angry. If you know how to get in contact with me through here let's get in touch (I have friended you). I sent an e-mail to Samsenpus last week but heard nothing so far.

This is an amazing achievement (5, Funny)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39974405)

All five people who own a Surface will surely make great use of this.

Re:This is an amazing achievement (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974435)

Wow, so 4 more people finally bought one?

Re:This is an amazing achievement (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974497)

All 5 of us are here reading this article, all realising we didn't have to a buy windows based OS, but knowing deep down that we'd never be able to figure out facebook on a none Windows machine.

Re:This is an amazing achievement (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974905)

Yeah... you might want to try focusing on spelling first. <3

Re:This is an amazing achievement (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39975331)

Oh, c'mon, there's got to be more than five. I've seen Surface on several TV shows.

But now that I think about it, the same box could have been used for multiple shows.

Re:This is an amazing achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978925)

As a person who is currently demoing a Surface, only to have Microsofts 'rippling water' demo crash over and over, I must say that I welcome this news.

aaaw innovation at microsoft. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974447)

amazinling i remember when a member of "microsoft lab" stood and presented several staff from microsoft to push people to recruite to microsoft.

it was so predictable when he said (not in english) "we have the surface computer, but we don't know what to real do with it".

they didn't want to go public as they were afraid to lose the money making from this machine.

so they keep it at there warehouses and shows.

amazing piece of junk, wont go public.
kills world innovation everyday,
instead they copy from others badly.

Schweet! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39974527)

Now to just get $25,000 to send to microsoft so they will build me one.

My luck 3.0 will come out when they ship it.

In case TFS/TFA is confusing (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39974657)

Having read the source, it IS a native driver. It does not use binary blobs from the Windows driver, unless you include parroting an init sequence which is apparently optional.

Re:In case TFS/TFA is confusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39976435)

I'm a complete layman (and havent RTA)but I found the summary confusing - wouldn't you expect to have to boot into linux if you wanted to run Ubuntu on the thing? How else is it going to work?

Re:In case TFS/TFA is confusing (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39976469)

That part made no sense at all. :)

Not that pricey (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39974859)

The local M$ store at the Mall of America has them for sale for $5000. Looking at the specs, its not much more than it would cost to build a comparable desktop system.

Re:Not that pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39974955)

The computer part of it would not be more expensive, but finding a cheap, reliable (every touch pixel works), and robust (is immune to stains, fingerprint smudges, liquids, and pressure from heavy people and things being placed on it), wide-format multi-touch surface is what makes the thing have the $5000 price tag.

You can make your own touch screen following the FTIR instructions from the NUI Group - and their multitouch kit runs on Linux and can fire off events to X! Check it out if you want a huge multitouch screen! The only downside is the depth of the surface, but you get what you pay for.

Re:Not that pricey (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977167)

What I don't understand is why people are bothering to make a display of that size touch sensitive at all. At that size of screen, you could easily and relatively cheaply use optics outside of the display to detect when something is coming in contact with the screen, and not notice any difference between it and an actual touch screen display. A suitably arranged array of IR optics around the rim of the screen could easily detect multiple shapes of objects or fingers that are being put on or resting on the screen.

Re:Not that pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39984045)

Actually Surface v1 worked like you describe - multiple cameras underneath the glass detected contact (allowing unlimited multitouch including irregular shape detection). In the Surface v2 timeframe, it became more cost effective to use more traditional touch-panel technology on 40"+ sized screens.

Re:Not that pricey (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988289)

I would have expected optics around the edges of the display to be more cost effective for larger displays, since such the sensor cost increases linearly only with the linear dimensions of the screen. So, for example, an optical sensor array double the width and height of another would cost only twice as much, even though the area within has increased by a factor of 4. Since such sensors are extremely cheap, the biggest cost of a large display would be the display itself, sans any touch sensitive technlogy.

Re:Not that pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989655)

Actually, I was sort of wrong. Surface v2 has a new technology that is neither cameras mounted beneath the glass, nor a traditional touch-screen panel.

Surface v2 has pixels that are effectively input/output. Besides what is being displayed on screen, each pixel is also able to see the color above it, making the screen itself essentially a very large camera sensor. Like Surface v1, it can actually see the shape and even the colors of things touching the screen, unlike Surface v1, it can do it in a flat panel form factor.

Surface v1 only worked as a table, because the cameras and optics beneath the glass took up significant space. Surface v2 could theoretically be hung on a wall.

Re:Not that pricey (2)

themightythor (673485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39976599)

Oh... I see what you did there. You used a "$" instead of the "S" in Microsoft's commonly used abbreviation. Because they're a company that tries to make money. Clever.

Re:Not that pricey (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39976639)

No, its just that's how I've always seen it abbreviated on /.

Re:Not that pricey (2)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977305)

Maybe before 2003 or so. We moved on when they finally changed the gates/borg image.

Re:Not that pricey (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977129)

That's only for the base system that is essentially a consumer-level device. If you want to do development, expect to spend double or even triple that.

Might want to abbreviate that first name. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39975077)

I read the headline -- OK sounds cool, proprietary stuff being reverse engineered and getting FLOSS drivers for it.

Start to read TFS - "Florian --" Nope! Next! If it wasn't for my lack of caffeine this early in the evening I'd have skipped right over this one.

That aside: It's pretty sweet! I love that my Kinect has never been connected to GNU/Linux doing mo-cap for all but two days I've had it; IMO, wouldn't have been such a hot seller without the openness. I hope MS doesn't start locking down their interfaces like they did with the Zune (not that that's what killed it -- Just would have been nice for my Mom to use hers on the Ubuntu Laptop I gave her). Hardware should be OS agnostic.

ignorant oblivious cave troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39981645)

I don't get it. Who's this Florian Echtler and why do you skip over his articles?

- Cave troll

spon6E (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39976217)

Itserlf. You can't

Now with open source drivers, but still... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977737)

it is only a big-ass table.

It's a table-sized iPod Touch (1)

kholburn (625432) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977929)

The Microsoft Surface - it's a giant iPod touch - the size of a table. I can see why it wasn't such a hit.

Re:It's a table-sized iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978467)

you had to have real big pants to fit that into your pocket.

Then others could say "Are you happy to see me or is that a Surface PC in your pocket..."

I owned one: my experience (1)

claytongulick (725397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979593)

I'm one of the few who actually owned one of these, so I'll share the good and bad points from my experience. Please note, this is in regards to the SUR40 manufactured by Samsung, Microsoft's Surface SDK is broadly applicable to a wide range of touch devices. It's based on WPF, so if you like .Net and WPF you'll be right at home.

First, the good:
- The SDK is decent, and well thought out. It's designed in classic OOP fashion, so folks who are familiar with WPF and .Net will feel right at home. The touch and gesture interfaces are straight forward. For folks who prefer ECMA Script/functional style coding, the SDK might be frustrating. I ended up using Flex for the UI because the development time in WPF was just taking too long. I also tried HTML5 but multitouch just isn't there yet for desktop browsers. The only one who's doing it is Mozilla, and the W3C spec isn't nearly complete, so Mozilla has their own implementation, but it's already deprecated. Flash player has excellent multitouch support, so I went with that.
- Pixel Sense. The way that the SUR40 recognizes input is unique in the market. Instead of one of the standard implementations like SAW, IR, Projective Capacitance, Camera, etc... the SUR40 uses what they sub "Pixel Sense" technology. Essentially this is a distributed grid of tiny IR cameras. The resolution is amazing, you can actually use this thing as a scanner by placing a piece of paper on it and capturing the raw image. Of course, with OCR, this opens up all sorts of interesting applications.
- Solidly built. The whole unit was solid and well presented. It looks very nice and would be appropriate in any sort of showroom setting.
- Price. While it seems expensive (and is!) it is actually very fairly priced in the market. Other competing offerings are significantly more expensive and have fewer capabilities. This is not a consumer device, this is a business device, and competes well with similar offerings from other companies for example: these are typical [] . Unless you're going to develop your own hardware platform with integrated CPU (which I ended up doing), the price is actually not bad.

The bad:
- Lighting. I can't stress this point enough. If you're not running this thing in a dark cave, it won't work. Not "decreased performance" like the marketing material says, it simply will not function. Even in a room with curtains closed and blinds drawn, this unit was completely non-functional during the day. This ruled it out as an option for my application, but if you're going to be in very tightly controlled lighting environments, then this still might be a decent option for you.
- Integrated computer. The specs on the integrated computer are frankly embarrassing for Samsung and Microsoft. The unit is terribly underpowered. For a table that's designed to be graphics heavy, this is a severe limitation. A $500 mini-ITX Core i5 based solution (which I ended up going with) is about 3-4 times faster and more powerful than the crappy CPU in this thing, and as far as I know there's no way to upgrade it. This is a huge disappointment, and there's really no reason for it. Microsoft could have thrown intel's i5 based mini-ITX in this and blown the doors down with performance. For the price you're paying for this table, there's no excuse for the underpowered hardware.
- Weight. Be aware, this is not light. Two strong people will be required to move it around. This makes it difficult to use for travelling tradeshows.
- The legs. This annoyed me quite a bit. The legs (which are NOT included with the table) cost over $800 and must be ordered separately. And no, there's no reason for them to be that expensive, there's nothing magical about them. They are just basic metal legs. This aggravated me to no end.

At the end of the day, the unit cost me over 9k (with shipping and tax) and it ended up going back. The marketing material is misleading when it talks about lighting conditions, there should be a big red banner across the front of the page saying "Will absolutely not function at all under normal lighting conditions". Combined with the terrible CPU specs, the SUR40 was entirely unsuited for my particular application.

It's a shame, because under the right circumstances, this device could be truly incredible. It seemed to me like they came up with a really neat technology with Pixel Sense, but only realized late in the game that they wouldn't be able to work around the lighting issues. At this point, my guess is that they were so heavily invested that they had to release it to market regardless. I understand the reasons behind why the unit is so light sensitive, my main gripe is that this limitation isn't clearly communicated by the marketing materials. The device could be used successfully for certain applications, but it is absolutely not usable generically. I suspect the RMA rate on these is pretty high because of this.

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