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Determining the type of Touchpad

The following command will tell you whether you have a Synaptics, ALPS or Elantech touchpad:

egrep -i 'synap|alps|etps' /proc/bus/input/devices

(Elantech support was enabled in Linux kernel 2.6.32-4.)

Editing Touchpad settings through a GUI

Some desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE can allow you to adjust settings of your touchpad through a graphical system settings panel.

On GNOME, go to System -> Preferences -> Mouse, there should be a "Touchpad" tab.

On KDE, go to System Settings -> Input Devices, there should be a "Touchpad" tab. For KDE4, you might need to install the kde-config-touchpad package first (eg: sudo apt-get install kde-config-touchpad).

If you can't find a Touchpad or Synaptics tab in your system settings, you may need to edit your "xorg.conf" file. This file has traditionally been a single file named /etc/X11/xorg.conf, but it can also be split up into multiple files in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d folder.

In case you don't have an xorg.conf

Create one with the following commands in a terminal:

Xorg :1 -configure

Alternatively, reboot the machine in single user mode, and type the following commands:

Xorg -configure

Then follow the on-screen instructions. This should give you something to work with.

Note: Xorg -configure may not always work, as indicated in Xorg(1). In any case, if you are using Squeeze, read on, as you no longer need a full xorg.conf.

Read the manual

This manual will tell you all the options that are available for the synaptics driver:

man 4 synaptics

Debian squeeze, wheezy, jessie and later

At start, Xorg reads vendor-supplied configuration commands from directory /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d (so says man xorg.conf.d).

If you want to override the defaults system-wide, use a file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d, e.g. /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/synaptics.conf, for configuration (but this will work just as well in a combined /etc/X11/xorg.conf file). /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d contains distro-supplied samples which can be copied over (or at least keep an eye on their settings when creating your own configuration). The following example shows how to enable tapping and how to configure various other options; you probably won't need everything in it. Comment out any old config for synaptics before replacing it with this new config.

(xserver-xorg-input-synaptics has tapping disabled by default for touchpads with one or more physical buttons; see /usr/share/doc/xserver-xorg-input-synaptics/NEWS.Debian.gz. For a list of available options, see synclient -l . Not all options are appropriate; for example, Elantech touchpads don't report pressure, and many other touchpads don't support multitouch.)

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier      "Touchpad"                      # required
        MatchIsTouchpad "yes"                           # required
        Driver          "synaptics"                     # required
        Option          "MinSpeed"              "0.5"
        Option          "MaxSpeed"              "1.0"
        Option          "AccelFactor"           "0.075"
        Option          "TapButton1"            "1"
        Option          "TapButton2"            "2"     # multitouch
        Option          "TapButton3"            "3"     # multitouch
        Option          "VertTwoFingerScroll"   "1"     # multitouch
        Option          "HorizTwoFingerScroll"  "1"     # multitouch
        Option          "VertEdgeScroll"        "1"
        Option          "CoastingSpeed"         "8"
        Option          "CornerCoasting"        "1"
        Option          "CircularScrolling"     "1"
        Option          "CircScrollTrigger"     "7"
        Option          "EdgeMotionUseAlways"   "1"
        Option          "LBCornerButton"        "8"     # browser "back" btn
        Option          "RBCornerButton"        "9"     # browser "forward" btn
EndSection

It is normal for a touchpad to be presented as both a Synaptics device and as an ImPS/2 device. If this is so, then /var/log/Xorg.0.log should show that X has found a touchpad on /dev/input/event6 (for example) and probably also that it has failed to do so on /dev/input/mouse0 (for example). This is fine.

Multitouch

If multitouch doesn't work for you, your hardware may not support it, but you can use the following options to emulate multitouch which allows most of the features to work. Try adding these lines to the Touchpad section (shown above):

        Option          "EmulateTwoFingerMinZ"  "35"
        Option          "EmulateTwoFingerMinW"  "8"

You can check which buttons are reported in Xorg.0.log to see if you have multitouch. A touchpad without this capability reports only the usual "left", "right" and "middle" buttons:

$ grep "TouchPad: buttons:" /var/log/Xorg.0.log
(II) SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad: buttons: left right middle

A touchpad with multitouch reports "double" for two-finger multitouch and "triple" for three-finger multitouch:

$ grep "TouchPad: buttons:" /var/log/Xorg.0.log
(II) SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad: buttons: left right middle double triple

The syndaemon Helper

syndaemon is able to help with a number of things, including palm-check and such. one possibility for loading this at X startup for all users is to add a separate file in /etc/X11/Xsession.d (i.e. /etc/X11/Xsession.d/98x11-syndaemon)

# This file is sourced by Xsession(5), not executed.

# Load settings from ~/.qsynaptics
/usr/bin/qsynaptics -r

# start synaptics daemon to enable proper communication with touchpad
/usr/bin/syndaemon -d -t -k -i 1

This also loads settings from the qsynaptics control panel. This can of course be omitted. If you leave it in, you should make sure all new users have sensible options set by copying a working .qsynaptics to /etc/skel.


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