MS Ink Service Project

What is this?

This is a project to enable development of a handwriting aware Tablet desktop for GNU/Linux and Unix computers.

The first component is a system to provide cursive and printed handwriting recognition, which has been working reliably for me for about a year. The foundation of the system is an MSInkServer application which runs on Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition, and may also run on some versions of Microsoft Vista, to provide handwriting recognition for both printed and cursive input entered from a client on a GNU/Linux system.

After reviewing my Windows XP Tablet license, I run my stripped down copy of Tablet XP in a 128Mb VMware session on my GNU/Linux tablet computer, and the client on the GNU/Linux desktop connects over a VMware host-only network connection to have the installed MSInkServer provide text recognition on my GNU/Linux desktop.

I have self-contained, portable, full cursive and printed handwriting recognition available on my GNU/Linux tablet with this system, and I have been using it (testing it) since May 2008.

A second component is the MSInkClient shared system library that provides a general entry point so that any application may use the text recognition in the hope that others might develop Free Software tablet applications.

I have developed a user client to allow text input on the GNU/Linux desktop, and this is provided from another Sourceforge project, the Stylus/Handwriting Input Panel client, here:
SHIP project 

My intention is that others use this facility to create handwriting-aware components for desktop systems like KDE & GTK, etc. For now, the SHIP client works for general handwriting input and provides a keyboard as well for corrections and also for direct entry (Fn keys, etc).


I have read that some Universities are mandating that both students and faculty use Tablet computers. As there is no fully functional text recognition available as Free Software, it is difficult to develop tablet functionality for GNU/Linux/Unix.

It's common, however, for Tablet computers to be sold with a copy of Microsoft's Windows Tablet XP. This project allows me to use the handwriting recognition I licensed with the applications I choose.

In time, I hope someone will develop native, Free, handwriting recognition libraries for GNU/Linux/Unix. In the meantime, this will allow and hopefully encourage development of a handwriting-aware desktop for Free Software, which in turn will hopefully spur development of an appropriate solution for the handwriting recognition itself.

Future Roadmap

I am keen to speak with a WINE/Windows COM programmer about an idea I have for a more convenient way to accomplish this. Please contact me through the SourceForge project pages.

How do I install and use it?

You can run the SHIP client and use it's on-screen keyboard entry features on most GNU/Linux/Unix systems using the X11 windowing system, but the handwriting recognition feature requires that you have a valid installation of MS Windows Tablet XP on it's own physical or virtual computer. If you have that, you can follow this link for instructions on how to install the MSInkServer:

The MSInkClient system library provides a general entry point allowing any application to take advantage of the handwriting recognition provided by the MSInkServer - thus any application could be written or modified to provide handwriting input. This is a programming task, rather than something an end-user can just enable, but this is accessible just as any other shared library would be. The installation instructions are found here:

Where is it?

Please follow this link to the SourceForge pages for the project to download files, post questions to the forum, etc.:
MS Ink Server Project