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Parabola on ReMarkable: A Guide [pdf] (davisr.me)
87 points by davisr 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments



What I'd really love to see is OneNote integration rather than their internal notetaking app - or at least import/export. That would turn it from just a nice PDF reader to a more useful tool for me. Is there a path there using Parabola? I'm not even sure if they offer a REST API to get at your own notebook data or anything -- there are no technical details on the site at all.


There are all sorts of tools on here: https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable

None of them using OneNote, I'm afraid, but at least there are APIs and on-device tools that are very usable.


I use the email document feature for my integrations for now. I have mail drop filters that trigger scripts which create blog post drafts. I send the document page from the device to a special email on my domain to trigger it.

You might be able to integrate with One Note that way if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves.

They also roll out updates to the devices which add all kinds of capabilities.


As an aside, kudos on the document format —- very reminiscent of Sun documentation from back in the day. (I still miss FrameMaker.)


Yep, looks like it was made in LaTeX.


"All reMarkable hardware works except for the Wi-Fi radio because it requires proprietary firmware"

So you need to use USB to xfer documents onboard?


That's correct. The device is exposed over USB as a composite device, consisting of a virtual Ethernet port and a virtual serial port. Network communications may happen over that link, as well as SSH/SCP'ing files.

It also supports USB OTG, so one could plug in a libre-compatible Wi-Fi card and use that.


Hi davisr, what are your plans for this system? I see elsewhere that you are interested in the Smalltalk/Dynabook concepts. Are you envisioning a completely new user interface for this at some point?


Hi scroot,

I can see from your comment history this is something you're interested in. ;)

Basically, every tablet manufacturer ever hasn't a clue about how to build a proper interface, for using computing as a medium and the digital notebook as a creative tool. The biggest problem is that too many people think of 'computer education' as learning to navigate pre-defined interfaces without a thought ever going to a) constructing those interfaces, b) working with abstract objects, or most-importantly c) utilizing symbolic expression to transcribe and refine thoughts.

I don't directly blame the manufacturers. I would say that most "programmers" haven't a clue about this art of expression themselves. The world is still blind to the greater picture behind Engelbart, Nelson, Kay, and etc.

And so, I am tired of living in this darkness: I'm making a dynabook (lowercase to distinguish from Kay's vision). The hardware is here, but the software is out 'there'. I can't go get it because it requires financial resources, so I'm releasing programs for the reMarkable tablet community hoping to gather those funds.

My idea is simple: it's for magic paper. The computer will help us define and refine our thoughts with a _real_ contextual interface, a context that will never go out of style: writing and drawing. My dynabook will contain a free-sketch area where users may draw, and a contextual inference program will determine what they are drawing and suggest actions. These actions, themselves, are more sets of drawings in a specific constraint-based symbolic/visual language. The dynabook is kick-started with a relational symbolic database containing basic symbols, from which meanings are derived. Meanings are contextual: the definitions of symbols are fuzzy.

For instance, in this database, one could ask, "Is the sky blue?" It would respond, "Sometimes: the sky is blue if it is a sunny day, gray if it is a cloudy day, and dark if it is a night." Every definition is defined in-relation to other definitions. Eventually, some _things_ won't have a definition, which is fine--they have a label, so they _are_. If the computer needs to know properties of these things, it can ask the user to define them.

  night is when: not when day
  day is when: sun is above
  above is: not when below
  sun is: bigfireball [not defined]
This will be fused with a handwriting recognition engine based on relational pattern detection: imagine drawing the letter, 'O'. Look at its x/t and y/t graphs: they have a clear sinusoidal pattern. Drawing a larger 'O' repeats the pattern, but with larger amplitude. These patterns, with a couple heuristics (like a no-draw-pause means 'space' or 'separation') defines new symbols in the database.

From the ground-up, this produces a very powerful system/database of fuzzy symbolic expression. Especially in the handwriting recognition, this relation-ality would allow one to write in any orientation, in any size, and the computer will infer what was scribbled.

On a macro-scale, the user will be able to e.g. draw a coordinate plane, then write an f(x) = y equation, then the computer will detect a compatible action, ask the user to draw the equation into the plane, and then do it--and here's the kicker--in the user's own handwriting. So, a line on a graph looks like the user drew it with a pencil. Or, if the user writes a statement like " 14 + 5 = " the computer will recognize the evaluation opportunity, then write the answer " 19 " in the correct spot in the user's handwriting.

I'd really like to take this as far as I can go because it is my own personal mountain. But, this is all dependent on funding because I am living in very uncomfortable conditions and won't be able to survive this winter in Wisconsin. So, maybe my reMarkable work will provide enough, or maybe a corporation or foundation will sponsor me. It's tough to get noticed. If you know anyone/leads funding this kind of work, please let them know of me!


Thanks for the extensive response. I've bookmarked your site. There's a lot more I can say about some of this, but I think I'll just email you when the time is right.

At the moment I don't really know about funding sources. It's really tragic -- there are many people with interesting ideas who are never going to get the funding they need. And it's not even a lot of money, just enough to pay for their living, some equipment, and the time and space to screw around. One guy on this site, who goes by "linguae," is someone else you might want to get in touch with if you can, for example.

I preordered the rM2 and will get one in October unless they delay it again. You'll have my support for sure.


Thanks for your support. :) If you ever want to talk more about this, I'd love to hear from you. You can find my email on my website. Until then...


This is awesome! Remarkable 2 is coming out soon. Hoping this might work with it as well. I think the WiFi is a hard trade off, since internet connectivity lets us pull new information. I saw Ethernet as supported in the guide, but there’s no Ethernet port right? What’s the way to transfer new information


I just mentioned this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24294868

The device is exposed over USB as a composite device, consisting of a virtual Ethernet port and a virtual serial port. Network communications may happen over that link, as well as SSH/SCP'ing files.

It also supports USB OTG, so one could plug in a libre-compatible Wi-Fi card and use that. Or, if one doesn't mind throwing their freedom under a bus, one could use the proprietary driver.


So there’s a proprietary Wi-Fi driver for Linux? The way it read I thought that was just out completely.


Is it possible to use a keyboard with this? That is one thing I’d really want


Yes, see here for Emacs running with an external keyboard. https://old.reddit.com/r/RemarkableTablet/comments/iis4fo/em...


Is it possible to run Emacs on it? Anyone knows this?


Yes, check out the demo video at 13m30s. It demos the X version of Emacs, but Emacs runs faster in '-nw' mode from the console.

http://www.davisr.me/projects/parabola-rm/


I guess something similar not possible/very hard for onyx boox as they not publish kernel sources.


Dumb question -- is this guide related to reMarkable gadget?


Yeah, it's about installing an alternative OS called Parabola. http://www.davisr.me/projects/parabola-rm/


Yes, Parabola GNU/Linux-libre may be used as a replacement OS for the device.

I put up a project page with a demo video, this manual, and distribution downloads: http://www.davisr.me/projects/parabola-rm/


You say replace. I gather dual booting is not (yet) possible?


Oh sure, you could run this in a chroot without a problem as long as you use the kernel with deferred-IO mode enabled. In fact, that's what I did when I posted on this on the /r/RemarkableTablet subreddit a few months ago.

https://old.reddit.com/r/RemarkableTablet/comments/gkktxy/de...





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