10 Years Later, Linux Getting A Touchscreen Driver For A Once Popular Tablet

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 12 April 2023 at 06:37 AM EDT. 14 Comments
The mainline Linux 6.4 kernel is set to see a new touchscreen driver for supporting the Novatek NVT-ts, which is used by at least a once popular Intel Atom powered Android tablet from a decade prior.

Red Hat's Hans de Goede who is known for his countless laptop and tablet related contributions to the upstream Linux kernel is the one to have written this new "novatek-nvt-ts" input driver. But in writing this driver without the vendor support, there are some missing elements... Like not even knowing the model number for this touchscreen controller. Hans de Goede wrote in the patch message:
"Add a new driver for the Novatek i2c touchscreen controller as found on the Acer Iconia One 7 B1-750 tablet. Unfortunately the touchscreen controller model-number is unknown. Even with the tablet opened up it is impossible to read the model-number.

Android calls this a "NVT-ts" touchscreen, but that may apply to other Novatek controller models too.

This appears to be the same controller as the one supported by https://github.com/advx9600/android/blob/master/touchscreen/NVTtouch_Android4.0/NVTtouch.c but unfortunately that does not give us a model-number either."

The driver is just over 300 lines of code and is queued via the input subsystem's "next" branch ahead of the Linux 6.4 merge window opening in a few weeks.

Iconia One graphic by Acer

The Acer Iconia One 7 B1-750 that at least works with this driver is a once popular Android tablet that debuted a decade ago. The Acer Iconia Android-powered tablet was popular for its low price point and overall decent experience at the time. The tablet was powered by an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor. Should you still have one of these Iconia tablets around, with Linux 6.4+ there is at least mainline touchscreen driver support. But with the tablet having just 1GB of RAM, good luck doing much with it on a modern Linux software stack.
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