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xword - a crossword program for maemo

about | installing | running | desktop | troubleshooting | bugs


xword is a crossword puzzle program for the Nokia Internet Tablet (NIT) which can read Across Lite ".puz" files. It is written in python using pyGTK. It is based on the original Xword program written by Bill McCloskey. The NIT version fixes a few bugs in the original code and adds functionality (e.g. built-in keyboard) to make the program more usable on the NIT.

Before you go any farther, you should be aware of the following caveats.

installing xword

The xword program and the python libraries are available from the maemo extras repository. Go into the Application Manager, select the menu "Tools->Application catalog..." and verify that "maemo Extras" is not grayed out. If it is, select "maemo Extras", click the "Edit" button, and uncheck the "Disabled" checkbox. Then click "OK", and then "Close". Let the Application Manager reread the catalog list.

Now, click on "Browse installable applications" and then on "All". Scroll to the bottom and install "xword". If the program does not install correctly, you may need to enable Red Pill mode.

Alternatively, you can open an xterm and install everything manually as root. To do this, make sure the maemo extras repository is enabled, then run the following commands in a terminal.

sudo gainroot
apt-get install xword

See also the xword for maemo project page.

running xword

The xword program will appear in your program menu somewhere, probably "Extras". The first time you start xword, you will need to open a ".puz" crossword puzzle. The ".puz" format was created for Across Lite. Puzzles in this format can be found around the net. The New York Times provides a free classic puzzle. The Houston Chronicle also has a two week archive of free puzzles.

In general, tap the box you want to move to. That box will appear in red. The rest of that word will appear in gray to indicate the direction of the word. The clue for that word will appear above the puzzle. Tap the box again to change word direction from horizontal to vertical (or back). Type in letters to fill in the word.






hardware buttons

For convenience, the hardware buttons on the NIT duplicate some of the functions on the on-screen keyboard. The table below shows the hardware buttons (with the equivalent key on a "standard" computer keyboard) and their functions.

NIT button (Standard key) Crossword function
Zoom - (F8) Move cursor to previous word
Full screen (F6) Toggle between windowed mode and full screen
Zoom + (F7) Move cursor to next word
D-pad center button (Return) Swap direction (horizontal <-> vertical)
D-pad up/down/left/right (Arrow keys) Move 1 box in that direction, or swap direction
Escape/Go back (Esc) Check current word for correctness


The on-screen keyboard allows you to enter letters for those devices without a hardware keyboard. In addition to letters, there are some special buttons near the bottom as shown in the image below.

Special keys

Note: The "Check Word" and "Solve Word" buttons also support "tap-and-hold". When you tap-hold these buttons, you get a pop-up menu which enables you to check/solve a letter, word, or puzzle.

screen shots

Windowed view with keyboard on right
Full screen view with solution buttons on left and keyboard on right
Full screen view with word list on left and solution buttons on right

Windowed view with minimum box size set to 14
Windowed view with minimum box size set to 40
"Puzzle->Properties..." pop-up box

Rotated full screen with solution buttons on top and keyboard on bottom
Rotated full screen with word list on top/bottom and keyboard on bottom

xword on your desktop computer

So you want to solve crosswords on your home computer? Well, you could simply download Across Lite for your platform. Or you can use the same xword program that runs on your NIT on any computer that supports python, pyGTK, and subversion.

Follow the installation instructions appropriate for your platform for python, pyGTK, and subversion. Then download the latest xword code from the maemo garage using the following command.

svn checkout https://garage.maemo.org/svn/xword/trunk/

Change into the newly created "trunk/" directory and run the "xword" program you find there. For Windows, you may need to rename "xword" to "xword.py" to be able to run it by double-clicking.


The program maintains two special hidden files/directories in your home directory. The ".crossword.cfg" file maintains the configuration settings for the program. The ".crossword_puzzles" directory holds the current state for all .puz files you have opened in the past. If you ever have any problems starting the program or (re)opening a .puz file, you may need to delete these files/directories. To do so, open an xterm and type the following command.

        rm  -rf  ~/.crossword.cfg  ~/.crossword_puzzles/


Please report bugs to the xword on maemo team. Here are some known bugs.

Last update: June 2, 2008