Using the reMarkable, my unsophisticated way



I used to look for a perfectly integrated tech-stack such that I could sync notes, highlights and metadata between my e-reader and my computer, and view the same notes on both devices (I even wanted them to auto-appear as Zotero attachments), and so on.

After some epiphanies, I now only have two simple requirements:

  • To use KOReader
  • To easily write notes using the stylus pen

Why handwritten notes

I know you hate handwritten notes. Me too. I previously thought I only wanted to extract book quotes to my computer, because I keep my whole life in plaintext files. That includes anything book-related. What use did I have for handwritten notes? They're not portable, they're not searchable, they're useless!

If this is your approach, you don't need a reMarkable – get a PocketBook or any other device, root it and slap KOReader on it.

These days KOReader supports direct connection to Calibre over WiFi, and even has its own SSH server (as of 2022-08 only Kobo and Kindle).

But it's a great idea to use the reMarkable pen. In the course of building an org-roam knowledge base, I found that it's hard to make good notes weeks or months after reading something (Slipbox workflow). The learning process went smoother if I had my laptop alongside the tablet, so I could make notes in realtime, in that piping-hot moment when the insights were fresh in my mind (Write when insights hot).

Of course, you must treat handwritten notes as temporary (a big collection of hand-writings is not exactly "scalable" or useful), but in this regard they're the same as book highlights and excerpts! Sönke Ahrens says that book highlights are to be considered "transient notes" (Three kinds of slipbox notes), something you discard after 24-48 hours.

The danger with digital highlights is they are so reliable, so long-lasting, that you may postpone looking at them for months or years, and your learning is destroyed. Here, handwritten notes are effectively the opposite of highlights: not only are you driven to merge them into your knowledge base more quickly — because who wants to keep a stack of uncategorized scribblings — it's fine even if you delay doing so because you already did quite a bit of learning in the process of writing them.

Aside: Instead of stylus, paper and pen could work. Although there is something about writing on the same slate I'm reading, especially in casual environments like the beach or the bus, but YMMV.


OK, but KOReader does not support drawing or writing. To use the stylus, you must somehow switch to the reMarkable's default UI called Xochitl. Enter my solution: the remux launcher. With a single gesture, I can switch seamlessly between KOReader and Xochitl.

This is perfection: writing in Xochitl, reading in KOReader, and minimal transition between the two.

How to configure remux launcher this way:

echo "filter_palm_events=true" >> /home/root/.config/remux/remux.conf
echo "back_gesture=gesture=tap;fingers=2" >> /home/root/.config/remux/remux.conf

(Note: do not use 3+ finger tap, it's a known issue with remux!)

If you prefer to swipe up from bottom of screen:

echo "back_gesture=gesture=swipe;direction=up;fingers=1;zone=0 0.7 1 1" >> /home/root/.config/remux/remux.conf

When you re-start the reMarkable after a battery drain, you have to launch KOReader again before you can switch between them. Bring forth the launcher by holding down the home button.

What links here

  • 2023-01-31
  • 2022-09-30
  • My reMarkable
Created (2 years ago)