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Calibration is necessary when the pointer on the screen does not coincide with where the input tool is located on the tablet. This is usually most noticeable on screen-mounted tablets (e.g. Tablet PCs or Cintiqs), often after rotation. Sometimes this may also be the cause of the input tool not reaching a particular monitor's edge or edges.

There can be multiple causes of misalignment. It may come about if the video driver is not reporting the coordinates quite correctly or a hardware problem, e.g. video chipset (firmware) etc. Or even just from the parallax of your working position. Parallax is present in tablet PC's and Cintiq's because the digitizer and LCD screen are two separate devices layered on each other, so there is some physical depth inherent in the combination of the devices.

The default coordinate settings for your tablet or tablet PC that are used by the Wacom drivers are usually accurate. The Wacom USB kernel driver supplies the default USB Wacom Tablet Area values for each model to the xf86-input-wacom X driver. The X driver then scales the tablet's area into the screen's resolution. The X driver also handles translation into the resolution the X server uses (points/meter). With Wacom Serial tablet PC's (ISDV4 devices) it's a different story because there is only "one model" and querying the tablet (isdv4GetRanges) returns the Wacom Tablet Area values. In the previous driver (linuxwacom) the Wacom Serial graphics tablet's Wacom Tablet Area values were defined in the X driver, like usb tablets in the kernel driver.

Fortunately the xf86-input-wacom X driver allows the user to override the default values with user specified settings when needed. Wacom USB graphics tablets also may want to use the xsetwacom or static Options area settings described in Apply the Coordinates below to correct an improper screen aspect ratio (tablet to monitor) especially with a wide screen monitor. Don't want ellipses when trying to draw circles!

Find Your Actual Coordinates

There are a few different ways to accomplish this.

Default Coordinates

You can get your default coordinates several ways. One is to enter into a terminal:

 xinput list-props "device name"

And in the output you should see a line similar to:

 Wacom Tablet Area (270):	0, 0, 14720, 9200

Or you can look in the Xorg.0.log file in /var/log for something like:

 Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Pen stylus: top X=0 top Y=0 bottom X=14720 bottom Y=9200

If you have a serial or usb tablet PC or usb tablet it will also tell you what port or device input event the data is coming in on. Usually tty/S0 for serial tablet PC's.

Calibration Programs

Several calibration programs are available. One such you can use is xinput_calibrator. To install it a tarball, several packages for different distributions, and a Ubuntu PPA are available. Entering in a console:

 xinput_calibrator --list

will return a list of devices xinput_calibrator thinks it can calibrate. Using either the ID # or "device name" (in quotes) returned proceed to calibrate your device. Four cross hairs will appear in sequence and on finishing xinput-calibrator will return output similar to the following. Be sure to be in your normal working postition and to hold the stylus as you normally do, to take parallax into account, when calibrating.

Warning: Xinput_calibrator's (an external program not part of the linuxwacom project) output describes out-of-date information on how to configure your device.

~$ xinput_calibrator --device "9"
Calibrating standard Xorg driver "Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Pen stylus"
	current calibration values: min_x=0, max_x=14720 and min_y=0, max_y=9200
	If these values are estimated wrong, either supply it manually with the --precalib option, or run the 'get_precalib.sh' script to automatically get it (through HAL).

--> Making the calibration permanent <--
  copy the policy below into '/etc/hal/fdi/policy/touchscreen.fdi'
<match key="info.product" contains="!!Name_Of_TouchScreen!!">
  <merge key="input.x11_options.minx" type="string">9</merge>
  <merge key="input.x11_options.maxx" type="string">14740</merge>
  <merge key="input.x11_options.miny" type="string">33</merge>
  <merge key="input.x11_options.maxy" type="string">9215</merge>

Change '!!Name_Of_TouchScreen!!' to your device's name in the config above.

Although xinput_calibrator suggests the deprecated HAL configuration we just need the coordinate values it has determined. You can see the default values but the 4 values you are interested in are under the Making the calibration permanent heading. You'll want to repeat the calibration several times and use the smallest and largest values or perhaps an average if you see no trend. Then use coordinate values in Apply the Coordinates below.

xinput test

If you have a usb tablet a convenient way to read your default values from Xorg.0.log is to first unplug your tablet's usb cable. Then enter in a terminal:

 tail -f /var/log/Xorg.0.log

and hotplug your tablet after you run the command. This will also give you your "device name" and event number as the sample output below shows. For calibration you only need the stylus and touch "device name", e.g.

[  5020.783] (**) Option "Device" "/dev/input/event5"
[  5021.221] (--) Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Pen stylus: top X=0 top Y=0 bottom X=14720 bottom Y=9200 resol X=100000 resol Y=100000

Once you have determined the device name ('xinput list' is an option also) you are ready to use xinput test. Enter into a console:

xinput test "device name"
xinput test -proximity "device name"


 xinput test "Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Pen stylus"

Using the -proximity switch will tell you when you've gone beyond the tablets edge. Then trace along the entire periphery of the tablet. This is easier if you have a bezel lip like tablet PC's do. When you have finished make sure the terminal is in focus and enter ctrl-z to shut xinput test down.

You'll see 'motion' followed by 6 numbers. Since there is a continuous stream of motion events you end up with 6 columns of numbers. The first column is X and the second Y. Scan down the X column and write down the smallest and largest X value. Do the same with the Y column, writing down the smallest and largest Y value. For example with a Bamboo P & T the results were 1,1 and 14712,9195 which is pretty close to the default 0,0 14720,9200 in Xorg.0.log.

Using the -proximity switch can refine your values a little more, although because the columns do not line up it is a little harder to read. The results were 1,0 and 14720,9197 which are almost spot on the default 0,0 14720,9200. The conclusion is the tested Bamboo P & T tablet is fine with the default settings.

This method is a little tedious but not too bad all in all.

Apply the Coordinates

Now that you have acquired your area values values you can apply them with xsetwacom. Note the eraser and cursor coordinates are the same as the stylus coordinates. For example the default values of a Cintiq look like the following.

 xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" Area 0 0 87200 65600

But if calibration showed different coordinate values then substitute them in instead.

 xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" Area -20 12 87064 65691

Notice negative TopX & Y values are allowed. You'll need add these commands to a startup script as they will not survive a reboot. And use the appropriate "device name" for each device you want to apply the coordinate values to.

Of course you can also apply the coordinates statically to the wacom.conf in xorg.conf.d or to the xorg.conf using:

Option "TopX" "-20"
Option "TopY" "12"
Option "BottomX" "87064"
Option "BottomY" "65691"

In the xorg.conf you would add the coordinates to each section required, such as stylus, eraser, and cursor. And for the wacom.conf in the appropriate usb or serial snippet below the Driver "wacom" line. Touch will have a different set of coordinates. Note if you do use the above xsetwacom parameters or Options to correct an improper screen aspect ratio (tablet to monitor) you will lose some of the working surface of your tablet.

Deprecated TopX/TopY/BottomX/BottomY runtime configuration

The Area parameter is only available in xf86-input-wacom-0.10.11 (released Feb 16, 2011) and later. For older releases, use TopX, TopY, BottomX, and BottomY instead:

xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" topx "-20"
xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" topy "12"
xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" bottomx "87064"
xsetwacom set "Wacom Cintiq 21UX2 stylus" bottomy "65691"
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