I have my Raspberry Pi 4 system linked to a touchscreen in a tablet case, and while I have a satisfactory slim keyboard and mouse I am using to type this very post, I also wanted to expand my options for brief text entry usng it as a standalone tablet. So, after a bit of quick Google-Fu, here we are! Someone already has a tutorial, because of course someone already did it first. That's the beauty of being a Linux n00b!
Just a quick note, though: I had to use the terminal commands to install the keyboard instead of using the GUI Add / Remove Software tool.
The usual Linux installation rules apply. First, connect to the web and update your software.
sudo apt update
This pulls updates for your existing software from the repositories. sudo is a command for super user do, which means, "do this with higher-level access." apt refers to the Advanced Package Tool used by Debian and its successors, including Raspberry Pi OS. And update means "check for updates," obviously.
Depending on your security settings, the sudo command will trigger a password inquiry. You do have a strong password on your protected root account, right?
sudo apt upgrade
The update command doesn't actually install any new software packages or upgrades, though. You need to also type this upgrade command to make the upgrades actually happen. The terminal will tell you how much space will be used or freed up, and request confirmation to continue.
sudo apt install matchbox-keyboard
And finally, the terminal command to install the touchscreen keyboard itself. The more I dabble in Debian's ecosystem, the more impressed I get. Sure, text commands are old-school, but it simply works, provided your commands are right, and the repository information is there.
I may need to tweak some more settings, though. It seems my OS now thinks switching any windows to full screen means to the area of the virtual keyboard. Hmm. I'll try a reboot and see if that fixes it. We all know these troubleshooting basics, right? Meanwhile, let's see if we can make #successwithanasterisk into a HIVE tag for projects that mostly worked as intended!