Senistive touchpads and Ubuntu
Last fall Meetup furnished me with a ThinkPad X1 Carbon. I was excited about this model because, as much as I love the x201 I use at home, the X1 Carbon is an all-new machine that finally starts a new chapter in the legendary laptop’s design. As I said back then:
It’s unfortunate that Lenovo like most companies, when they hit on a winning hardware design (or buy one), will just tack on a few bells and whistles year after year instead of, you know, refining the design.
But no longer! Not only is the phone jack (!??!) gone, they’ve given up ethernet, VGA, and (I think… I’m not really an expert on this stuff…) the “PC Card” slot. There’s also no removable battery.
In other words they made a number of difficult tradeoffs, very much following in the footsteps of tradeoffs that Apple made years ago for the Air and for the same reasons: to innovate in design. But unlike most other companies following in the Air’s footsteps, Lenovo actually did innovate. Instead of yet another slippery metal or faux-metal case, the Carbon has grippy black plastic that looks distinguished and feels great.
Here are some X1 Carbons poorly composited with an enormous pencil.
Sensitive touchpads and Ubuntu
But this post’s title promises information about Ubuntu and I hope that googlers do indeed land here to find it. Because I had this laptop for 8 months before I spent a weekend day figuring out how to make the large super-sensitive touchpad work well with Ubuntu.
Under the default configuration it was just not possible for me to use tap-to-click, as I prefer, or even press-to-click. In both cases the cursor would jump right as the click registered. (i.e. the worst possible time.) So instead of clicking the coordinates I had painstakingly positioned the cursor above, I would be clicking some other dumb place and often as not miss the area defined for whatever action I was trying to take.
I just couldn’t use the big fancy touchpad much at all, and stuck with the trackpoint. What a shame.
Anyway, here’s my new config, the comments at the top tell you how to make it take effect. I keep the file under my home directory and softlink to where the system will read it. I’m pretty happy with this config. It’s not 100% perfect and I’ll probably be tweaking it until the day I die, but at least now I can use my touchpad without despair.
# softlink this file into: # /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d # and prevent the settings app from overwriting our settings: # gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.mouse active false Section "InputClass" Identifier "nathan touchpad catchall" MatchIsTouchpad "on" MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*" Driver "synaptics" # three fingers for the middle button Option "TapButton3" "2" # drag lock Option "LockedDrags" "1" # accurate tap-to-click! Option "FingerLow" "50" Option "FingerHigh" "55" # prevents too many intentional clicks Option "PalmDetect" "0" # "natural" vertical and horizontal scrolling Option "VertTwoFingerScroll" "1" Option "VertScrollDelta" "-75" Option "HorizTwoFingerScroll" "1" Option "HorizScrollDelta" "-75" Option "MinSpeed" "1" Option "MaxSpeed" "1" Option "AccelerationProfile" "2" Option "ConstantDeceleration" "4" EndSection
I hope this is helpful. I assume it is at least a step in the right direction for other laptops with big, sensitive touchpads.
For home use I’m getting antsy to replace my x201, as I am tiring of its tiny touchpad, paltry number of pixels, and general non-ultraness. Unless Lenovo makes a smaller version of the X1 Carbon I may have to jump ship for the Dell XPS 13 of all things. But something is telling me to wait a bit longer.