Disable reMarkable Touchscreen with evkill


evkill is a silencer for evdev input devices. Run a single command and make your /dev/input/ devices go “psst!”. In this post we will use evkill on a reMarkable e-ink writing tablet to disable the capacitive display while writing.

evkill on reMarkable

The Problem

Since reMarkable has introduced page flips using swipe gestures, it happens a lot that I unintentionally change page while writing. They must have put some detection for this into their software, but for whatever reason this does not work for me on my device 1. This is why I would like to be able to disable the capcitive sensor behind the screen by a button press. In a previous post I already showed how we can toggle flight mode with the hardware buttons. This time we will reuse the same script. But instead of switching network devices on and off, we will use evkill to disable input devices.

The Hack

First, we download the evkill armv7l build and upload the executable to the reMarkable.

$ curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Enteee/evkill/master/install.sh | ARCH="armv7l" sh
$ scp evkill [email protected]:.

Next, we cross compile and upload evtest.

$ git clone https://github.com/freedesktop-unofficial-mirror/evtest.git
$ cd evtest
$ docker \
  run --rm \
  dockcross/linux-armv7a > dockercross
$ chmod +x dockercross
$ ./dockercross bash -c "autoreconf -iv && ./configure --host=arm-linux-gnueabi && make"
$ scp evtest [email protected]:.

Given the device mapping from the table below, we adapt the script from the previous post.

DeviceNameDescription
/dev/input/event0Wacom I2C DigitizerThe electromagnetic resonance device for the pen
/dev/input/event1cyttsp5_mtThe capacitive touchscreen
/dev/input/event2gpio-keysThe hardware buttons

The idea is that the script detects button presses by listening on /dev/input/event2 using evtest. Once it registers a button press from the left and right hardware button it will start an evkill process in the background and disable /dev/input/event1. If we then again press both buttons, the script will terminate all running evkill instances with the effect of enabling the touchscreen again.

#!/usr/bin/env bash
set -euo pipefail

DEVICE_BUTTONS='/dev/input/event2'
DEVICE_TO_KILL='/dev/input/event1'

# commands
EVTEST=$(command -v evtest || echo './evtest')
EVKILL=$(command -v evkill || echo './evkill')

LEFT_DOWN=false
RIGHT_DOWN=false

toggle_evkill(){
  local evkill_pid
  evkill_pid="$(pidof evkill || true)"
  if [ -z "${evkill_pid}" ]; then
    echo "=> Disable touchscreen: ${EVKILL} ${DEVICE_TO_KILL}"
    "${EVKILL}" "${DEVICE_TO_KILL}" &
  else
    echo "=> Enable touchscreen: kill ${evkill_pid}"
    kill "${evkill_pid}" &>/dev/null
  fi
}

handle_events(){
  local key_left_down
  key_left_down='*type 1 (EV_KEY), code 105 (KEY_LEFT), value 1*'

  local key_left_up
  key_left_up='*type 1 (EV_KEY), code 105 (KEY_LEFT), value 0*'

  local key_right_down
  key_right_down='*type 1 (EV_KEY), code 106 (KEY_RIGHT), value 1*'

  local key_right_up
  key_right_up='*type 1 (EV_KEY), code 106 (KEY_RIGHT), value 0*'


  "$EVTEST" "$DEVICE_BUTTONS" | while read -r line; do
      case $line in
          ($key_left_down) LEFT_DOWN=true ;;
          ($key_left_up) LEFT_DOWN=false ;;
          ($key_right_down) RIGHT_DOWN=true ;;
          ($key_right_up) RIGHT_DOWN=false ;;
          (*) continue ;;
      esac
      echo "$line -> LEFT ${LEFT_DOWN} , RIGHT: ${RIGHT_DOWN}"

      if [ "${LEFT_DOWN}" = true ] && [ "${RIGHT_DOWN}" = true ]; then
        toggle_evkill
      fi
  done
}

handle_events

If we now save the script to an executable file called disable-touchscreen.sh and run it on the device, we have achieved what we wanted.

$ chmod +x disable-touchscreen.sh
$ scp disable-touchscreen.sh [email protected]:.
$ ssh -t -t [email protected] ./disable-touchscreen.sh

Important: In case you omit the -t -t options to ssh, the script will keep running on the reMarkable even after you exit ssh with CRTL+C. This might cause some problems when the devices activates the lock screen.

Below a demonstration of how this looks like on an actual reMarkable:

  1. Version 2.2.0.48 

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