Apple Trackpad/Touchpad Sensitivity under Linux

Apple’s trackpad/touchpad on my macbook pro seems to be having some emotional issues under Linux (Korora 21 beta – GNOME). It’s SUPER sensitive. I’m typing in the same way that I’ve always typed under OSX (and never had a problem with) but suddenly now my cursor is jumping all over the place. The tail ends of my sentences end up in the middle of other sentences and I just lost a paragraph that I was in the middle of because the trackpad registered the brush of my palm as a triple click which selected the whole thing and the next character I typed overwrote it all. Thank goodness undo still works.

GNOME has a touchpad/mouse control panel with an option to “Disable Touchpad While Typing”. However it doesn’t work on my 2009 macbook pro – the touchpad remains fully functional.

A google search later turns up this great site that goes through the steps someone else has used to get the apple trackpad working a bit more as intended.

To summarise – after ensuring that the synaptics driver is installed and running you need to use the “synclient” binary to view and change the trackpad settings.

“synclient -l” will list all the touchpad settings.

Then “synclient Setting=Value” will modify the setting you need to change.

The site above recommended “synclient FingerHigh=50” as a good level for the sensitivity (lower is less sensitive), however synclient told me that 50 was out of range. It seems like 70 is the lowest it will let me go. So FingerHigh=70 has now got me a trackpad that doesn’t register palm-brushes as actual presses. The higher the number, the less sensitive the trackpad is. 70 seems to be sensitive enough for me.

The blog above also lists commands to get some other things working, these include two-finger and three-finger taps for right and middle clicks, corner buttons and palm detection. I’ve listed the commands below for my own reference and if you want to read all the detail behind the commands I recommend reading the linked page or the synaptics man page.

2/3 Finger Tap On:
synclient TapButton1=1
synclient TapButton2=2
synclient TapButton3=3

Note: I like 2 finger to be right click and 3 finger to be middle click. To achieve this I used:
synclient TapButton2=3
synclient TapButton3=2

Disable double-tap and drag:
synclient TapAndDragGesture=0

Disable Corner Buttons:
synclient RTCornerButton=0
synclient RBCornerButton=0
synclient LTCornerButton=0
synclient LBCornerButton=0

Enable Palm-detection:
synclient PalmDetect=1

Finally, to get the settings to to run at login, the following steps were needed:
1. Disable the Gnome settings daemon. This can be done by running dconf-editor then disabling the org/gnome/settings-daemon/plugins/mouse/

2. Create a syanptics.conf file under /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/

My final conf file contained the following:

Section "InputClass"
Identifier "touchpad"
Driver "synaptics"
MatchIsTouchpad "on"
MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
Option "FingerHigh" "70"
Option "RTCornerButton" "0"
Option "RBCornerButton" "0"
Option "MinSpeed" "0.7"
Option "MaxSpeed" "1.7"
Option "SHMConfig" "on"
Option "TapAndDragGesture" "off"
Option "PalmDetect" "on"
Option "TapButton2" "3"
Option "TapButton3" "2"
Option "TapButton1" "1"
EndSection

A quick reboot later and my settings are working!

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