On-Screen Virtual Keyboard is a Go for Mere Mortals, Here's How To Install It | webOS Nation

On-Screen Virtual Keyboard is a Go for Mere Mortals, Here's How To Install It

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 13 Oct 2009 11:15 am EDT

Eric Gaudet and the WebOS Internals crew have done awesome work on the Virtual Keyboard for the Palm Pre and also provided instructions on how to install it in our forums (which have already made the rounds). The folks from WebOS internals and preware.org wanted to make things a little easier. They have an app installer called Preware that is able, as of last night, to safely install (and remove) patches. The first patch they've made available is the keyboard.

The keyboard works passably well, but it's definitely got a kink or two that needs working out (symbols aren't working for me yet). You can see it in operation above [direct YouTube Link for Pre users] - just double-tap the gesture area to toggle it whenever you have a cursor on the screen.

Update: Gaudet schools me on how the keyboard works: "the symbols unlock the scroller. He has to scroll the keyboard to see the symbols below it when the sym lock is on." Update 2: For everybody that's asking, you an get 5 columns of apps on your launcher via an option inside WebOS Quick Install, under Tools->Tweaks.

After the break we'll tell you how to get it done. We said in the title that it was possible for mere mortals and that's true, but we still need to caution you that you're applying a patch and so things can get dicey and you will need to ensure you've uninstalled the patch before any webOS update.

Installing Preware is a bit more laborious than installing fileCoaster, but not much.  First you need to put your Pre in development mode, plug it into your computer and launch WebOS Quick Install (Make sure you have the latest 2.01 version!). Now you'll click that button that loads repositories

That will open up a dialog, within which you're want to choose the WebOS-Internals Feed (all) respository:

Now you want to download one file, install it, then download a second file, and install that.  It's important do you do it in that order, so:

  1. Select "Package Manager Service"
  2. Click download, then close
  3. Click "Install" on the Main WebOS Quick Install Page
  4. Click the feeds button again
  5. Go back to the WebOS Internals (all) feed
  6. Select "Preware"
  7. Click download, then close
  8. Click "Install" on the Main WebOS Quick Install Page

After that, you can unplug your Pre.  You may want to do a quick reboot at this stage just to make sure everything's kosher.  Now you should have Preware in your launcher - launch it! Once it finishes loading, select "Available Patches" and then Virtual Keyboard.  It will give you a warning, but don't panic:

Click Ok here and wait - your Pre will reset the GUI (it looks like a normal reset). If you're the coding/paranoid type, you can even click view here to see just what the patch is and what it does.

After that, you can double-tap the gesture area whenever you see a cursor on screen (it won't just work anywhere, so you can use it to start Universal Search, for example). 

Just be sure to use Preware to remove the virtual keyboard before you apply any webOS update! To do it, just open up Preware again, go into the patches section, select the virtual keyboard, and tap remove. Go though the warning screen again, and done (I had to try it twice, fyi).

Happy typing!