Author Archives: christr

Multiple “Windows” on the Surface RT

So, one of the rather annoying bits about Windows 8 is that ‘those that are no longer supposed to be called Metro’ apps all want to suck up your entire screen.  Well, I found at least on the Surface running Win8 RT, you can ‘stick’ one app in about 1/3 of your screen leaving the other 2/3’s for other stuff.  Helpful way to keep your email visible while cruising the web.

To do this you can use the mouse or touchpad to bring the cursor to the top of the screen and the pointer will change to a hand.  Then left click, drag down and to the left or right (whichever side you wish to dock to).   If using a touchscreen the same can be accomplished by dragging your finger from the top of the screen down to about the middle (to ‘window’ the app) then slide left or right.

RDP on the Touchpad (the hard way)

(( Fair warning, I’ve run this thru a few times to make sure it works ,but have not had a chance to try on a virgin Touchpad yet.  Will do that tonight and update if there are any issues ))

Right now there is only a hard way. 🙂  Now granted, this is probably one of the lesser ‘hard’ ways to do it.  Another, likely harder way is by installing Debian or Ubuntu chroot’s.  Tho those methods get you even more apps to play with, but sucks up lots of storage space on your Touchpad and oftentimes even more of a pain in the ass to get going then this horrible method. 🙂

Since there are currently no native Remote Desktop (RDP) apps for the Touchpad, here’s a way to make it happen. Essentially I grafted RDesktop’s binaries out of the Debian ARMEL distribution and installed the library dependencies for RDesktop from Optware.  In theory, someone with enough time on their hands and know-how should be able to build this for WebOS natively.  Or at least, hack it directly into Xecutah.  For now, since I don’t know how to do either just yet, I figured I’d let ya all know how to do it the hard way. 🙂

Dependencies:  Dev mode enabled, Preware installed, Xecutah, Xterm, Xserver also installed.
Find out about these here:   and yes, you will need your Touchpad ‘rooted’ to do all this (not to install the above stuff, but to install the rdp app)

Once you have all those spiffy dependencies installed and Developer (root) enabled here’s what you’ve gotta do.

1: Install Optware on your Touchpad via Preware. (install both Optware packages for now, later you’ll remove the Advanced Command Line Installer as it may cause issues with Preware and HP’s appstore).

2: Copy over my hackup of RDesktop to your Touchpad.  Place it in /var/home/root/rdpinstall  (you’ll have to create the rdpinstall directory.  You can use Xterm locally and wget, or you can USB attach, your choice)

3: Open Xterm, cd to rdpinstall and UnTar the file : ex: start Xecutah, click Start Xterm, then cd /var/home/root/rdpinstall, then run :   tar -xvBpf CT-rdesktop-webos-0.1a.tgz

4: Run ./ :  This will install using ipkg-opt (from Optware) the required dependencies if you don’t have them already, and copy the RDesktop files to various locations. It will also temporarily remount your root / folder to read/write mode to be able to copy some files around.

5: Close out of Xterm/Server, and uninstall the Optware Advanced Command line installer. (optional on the Optware uninstall, I’ve had issues with it and getting regular package updates.  Do NOT uninstall the Optware bootstrap, or you’ll lose all the custom libraries you  just installed for RDesktop)

6: Restart your Touchpad (optional, this may be needed to clean up any dependencies and whatnot, doesn’t have to be done, but if you have trouble starting RDesktop, it’s worth a shot)


To run RDesktop you just have to do the following:

1: Open Xecutah and start Xterm

2: run./ username hostname   from the resulting Xterm window.

If you are using multiple cards, I added a few other scripts to help., are there in case you’re starting with the 2nd or 3rd card of Xterm.  If you get a cannot attach to display error when running the script, try the rdp1 or 2.  The only diff between those scripts is exporting the DISPLAY environment variable.

When all is said and done, you should have this:

I’ll update this entry with pics/video at some point soon.


You can even run multiple RDP sessions at once with the latest Xterm/Xecutah/Xserver

USB Host mode on Touchpad

So, this is pretty spiffy.  USB host mode works actually on the Touchpad.  This means you can in theory, add stuff like memory sticks, 3G dongles, hard drives, etc to your HP Touchpad.  Of course, there’s a catch. 🙂  (always a catch).  The Touchpad does not supply any power from it’s USB port.  Even tho it’s auto-sensing that it can switch between host and device, it never ends power there.  So, that presents a slight challenge, but not too hard.

With a few simple cables and a power source I was able to get it to read and mount a little 2Gb USB thumb drive.  You just need the proper cables and power.  The cables are all found on eBay fairly easily from Hong Kong for a few bucks.

First, here’s a pic of the rigging. 🙂

A little messy but not too bad. 🙂   On screen is an XTerm via Xecutah. As far as I know WebOS  has no real way to know about this stuff on it’s own.  You’ll need to get to a local console to actually activate/use anything you plug in.

Here’s a screenshot with the details.  The USB stick showed up as /dev/sda.  I mounted to a temp mountpoint under root’s homedir.

Here’s a closeup of the cables used.  I used my HP Touchpad’s AC power adapter to provide power with the USB Y-Cable.

And here’s a closeup of the cable going to the Touchpad itself.  Just plug this into the touchpad, the Y “power injector” cable into this one, then your device into the female end of the Y cable.

And there ya have it!    Now to figure out how to get a 3G WWAN dongle to work. 🙂

Also, a thought for more portable power.  I’ve got an Energizer Energi-to-Go battery pack.  I may see if I can rig that up somehow to a cable to provide power to the devices.  that’ll give me something smallish to carry in my bag with the Touchpad.

Here’s a few links to the stuff used.

The Micro-USB cable to Female USB A adapter:
The USB Y-Adapter (power injection) :

XWindows, Xterm and TWM on WebOS

So here’s this weeks experiment… Tho it’s not working out as well as I hoped.  I can get TWM to run which helps quite a bit….but can’t get RDP to properly accept keyboard mappings.  

I’ll post some details later, but here’s a screenshot.

Pre-reqs for Touchpad awesomeness.

So, just wanted to make sure anyone who’s actually reading this knows up front.  You really really really need to install Preware on your Touchpad to do most of what I’ll be chattering about here when I chatter about the Touchpad.

Think of Preware like Cydia on the iPhone…. except HP isn’t out to destroy them.  They actually encourage development and fooling around on your Touchpad unlike the goons at Apple. (who seem to be more and more like the ‘adversary’ they depicted in their “1984” commercial…)

Anyway, to fetch Preware and learn more about it, hit up this page:

More to come soon….

HP Touchpad fun.

So, I got my hands on an HP Touchpad.  Largely due to a friend of mine telling me about it the day they went on sale… and my wife and I running to BJ’s wholesale club the next morning.  Paid full price on Sunday, got the refund on Monday. 😉

 So far it’s quite a nice device.  Lots of chatter about putting Android or various Linux distro’s on it, but quite frankly after fooling around with it for a while… I really like WebOS.  This thing can be ‘rooted’ in about 5 seconds with clear docs from HP.  Then you have full access to a standard ARM based Linux OS (WebOS). 

I’ll most more here as I tinker with it.  So far I’ve managed to get XWindows running with TWM as  a Window Manager and various xTerms. Hope to get a bit more going in native WebOS without having to resort to installing a secondary OS.