Touchpad default settings are horrible

Bug #113278 reported by HG
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
xserver-xorg-input-synaptics (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

Having come from Windows, the default touchpad behaviour in Feisty is horrible. The movement and accelaration isn't very nice and it tends to click too easily. Neither of these are the result of a bug, it's just the default settings for synaptic need some real work. I've tried to get some comfortable settings by editing xorg.conf, but it's near impossible to know exactly what values to use for the dozen or so options.

This is actually a real problem for me - I use the touchpad exclusively and I can't use Ubuntu the way it is. It's incredibly frustrating. Again, the Windows settings "just work" and feel perfectly comfortable. I wonder if it would be possible to find the values used by the Windows software/drivers and port them over? I'll have a look through the registry later and attach the appropriate values for reference. I don't know if there will be a one-to-one mapping for the values, but it might be useful.

Revision history for this message
Bryce Harrington (bryce) wrote :

Thanks, any research you can do to find defaults that suit you will probably be of interest to others, so if you can post back your findings here, that'd be handy!

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Christian Reis (kiko) wrote :

When you say "horrible" can you be somewhat more specific? There is bug 28648 that describes it being horribly slow, but I didn't get that from your report. Is it just subtly unnerving or is it all wrong?

Changed in xserver-xorg-input-synaptics:
status: Unconfirmed → Needs Info
Revision history for this message
HG (mike-we11er) wrote :

Unnerving yes, subtly no... at least not for me, being a full-time touch pad user. I don't think it's just that I'm used to different settings (although I'm sure that contributes) - I think the defaults are a bit messed up. I end up clicking icons twice by accident, for example when trying to click an icon on the top bar or starting a swipe when the cursor is already over an icon. The movement speed is also too high when making small adjustment swipes. I guess some of this is subjective, but both Macs and Windows machines have *much* better behaviour by default.

I'm at work at the moment, but I'll post my hardware information later on for reference. Who knows, maybe there is a some other driver/config issue here that I'm not aware of.

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glentrob (gtr) wrote :

I'm on a Dell Inspiron 8600. I NEED to be able to disable the button press emulation on the touchpad. I would LIKE to be able to set the time delay for mouse movement, which seems to be the point of a lot of posts where typing generates cursor movement by accident (palm touched the mousepad). If I have to I can live with the accidental typing touch. I can't live with the button press emulation and the first thing I did in Windows XP was to disable it. The cursor can be hard to pick up in adverse light. If you tap the touch pad and move it a fair distance to spot the cursor -- AND the cursor happens to be for instance at the top of the screen when you do it - you end up launching something you really didn't want to. This also happens when moving the cursor on drop down windows - say for intance - preferences: You have reached the end of the touchpad area getting to that particular drop down and when you pick up your finger to re-engage at the top of the touchpad area so you can scroll down the list of drop down buttons - your disengage-engage finger action is treated as a button click and you launch whatever aplication happened to be under the cursor when you picked up your finger.

Most people I have associated with immediately turn off tapping on the touchpad as a mouse click option in Windows Xp, and why that is not the default action, I have no idea.

As a final note, I have not been able to successfully get synclient /syndaemon running. I have added synaptics lines (per previous posts) in a new input device section in xorg.conf, and tried to disable with synclient TouchpadOff=0 and immediately get a SHMconfig not running error.

Revision history for this message
glentrob (gtr) wrote :

I finally got synclient (SHMconfig) running. Once I figured out that in addition to having an InputDevice section for the Synaptics Touchpad, I had to add a line to the ServerLayout section (i.e., InputDevice "Synaptics Touchpad"). This addition allowed the option "SHMConfig" "on" in my previously added Input Device section to have effect.
At that point 'synclient -l <enter>' from a terminal window gave me all of the current option values. I shut off tapping with the command 'synclient MaxTapTime=0 <enter". This worked as I desired, so I set up an action in preferences->startup called "Synclient" with the command "synclient MaxTapTime=0". My ubuntu system now works as I like it to and has supplanted (mostly) use of windows xp dual boot.

This took a lot of digging and guessing (e.g., setting MaxTapTime=0). In Windows XP it works like this:
control panel -> Mouse ->Touch Pad
    "Tapping" button:
          if unchecked - all other options are diabled (grayed out)
          if checked - 2 other buttons are enabled:
              1. Drag Lock button
              2. Tap Off When Typing button
     Finally, there is a touch sensitivity dialogue.

I presume that the aforementioned buttons are hooks into the Windows XP Synaptics driver. Can similar things be done in xorg? In some other posts I have seen concerns about security with SHMConfig. I don't understand the concerns, particularly if a check is made that an alps or synaptics touchpad is present before enabling. This is after all on a laptop where multiuser is kind of a misnomer - generally only one person has the laptop at hand at a time, even if they are running several programs. If it is still a major concern, I would recommend the default be turning off tapping (I believe that most touchpads are shipped with one or more separate buttons, so you can live with tapping disabled) and then a detailed Howto for turning things on. Note that the applicable man pages do not hint at what the option MaxTapTime with a value of 0 might do, assuming a novice can even figure out how to find the applicable man page.

Revision history for this message
Bryce Harrington (bryce) wrote :

Marking as triaged. glentrob has offered several potential workarounds/fixes that sound doable, but will need some additional research.

It also sounds like having some settings in a GUI admin tool would give the best all around solution. Perhaps this can be worked on for Gutsy+1.

Changed in xserver-xorg-input-synaptics:
status: Incomplete → Triaged
Revision history for this message
J.C. Steele (jcsteele-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

To elaborate on HG's original comments, on my synaptic touchpad in windows I get superb movement, sensitivity, and clicking - even without the synaptic touchpad driver installed - when it is installed I get extremely excellent movement and can tweak my heart out. When switching to ubuntu, the default behavior seems to be a little worse (the sensitivity is "off" for my tastes compared with windows, etc.) but its definitely workable...what is not workable is the sole aspect of scrolling, which by default without the synaptic touchpad driver installed is non-existent. However, when enabling the touchpad driver and setting it up properly, scrolling works fine...everything else at that point is messed up (sensitivity is way too high, tapping actions are horrible, especially when double clicking which can require sometimes 2-3 tries to get an application/icon/folder/etc. to open, and the general feel has changed dramatically) By reading some documentation you are basically told to a) play with xorg.conf to adjust settings or b) use a gui program or command line program to adjust settings in real time. The problem I find with both of these routes is that the number of variables to adjust in xorg.conf is astounding and basically impossible to get a working solution, and the gui solutions available fall short of giving enough options to the user (most give acceleration, sensitivity, and ability to turn options on or off (like tapping disable). No matter how many settings I have tried, how many different configurations I have tried, nothing seems to come close to replicating the functionality I get in windows...providing the synaptic touchpad driver and some configuration utility to enable it would be very handy, as well as having a gui configuration program that is intelligent enough to give me the configuration options I need would be excellent. Also, any information I find on the synaptic touchpad driver for linux seems horribly out of it still being developed? perhaps if not, that would be a starting point...I could certainly live with a restricted driver notice (similar to my wireless card) telling me to enable the driver if one could be obtained from a non-free source.

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