Kobo sells a line of devices with E Ink displays that are designed for reading eBooks. But since Kobo eReaders have a USB port and Linux-based software, of course people have found ways to hack the devices for use in other ways.

One recent example? Kobowriter is a free and open source tool that lets you connect a USB keyboard to a Kobo eReader so you can use it as a portable E Ink typewriter.

The project installs a modified kernel (developed as part of the XCSoar project) that allows a Kobo eReader’s USB port to accept keyboard input. It also installs the Kobowriter software, which lets you create and edit text documents.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • With these modifications installed, you can still use a Kobo device as an eReader. But there’s an intermediate step – when you turn on a Kobo device, you’ll see the XCSoar launcher application that lets you choose whether to run Kobo software, Kobowriter, or something else.
  • You’ll have to disable USB-OTG (the feature that lets you use a keyboard) if you want to use the stock Kobo software to read eBooks. But you can always re-enable it when it’s time to type.
  • Kobo devices will not output any power over the USB port, so you’ll need to use a keyboard that draws power from its own batteries or another source.
  • The developer notes that Kobowriter has only been built and tested for the Kobo Glo HD and only supports a French keyboard layout at the moment. But since it’s open source software, anyone can tweak the code and work on modifications for additional Kobo devices and/or languages.

You can find more details at the GitHub page for Kobowriter.

via Hacker News

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