External touchpad for Ubuntu?

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External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Owen Thomas
I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before now, it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.

I have heard people say that I should just plug a mouse in, but I don't want to buy myself a mouse just so I can disable my touchpad. But I do think that I could buy myself an "external touchpad". I have my laptop on my lap, and I think that if I plug in an external touchpad, and rest it on the arm of my chair, this setup might just work.

I did a quick search, and found while these devices do exist, I found only a few references where people have wanted to use an external touchpad in Ubuntu, and nothing useful about which vendors might sell a reliable external touchpad (one that would disable the laptop's touchpad when in use and have the same or a similar set of gestures as the internal one) with a recent release of Ubuntu. I hope there's something.

Thanks for letting me know,

  Owen.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
On Sun, 20 Dec 2020 at 13:47, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before now, it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.

There was a thread a little while ago, was that the one to which you refer?

Does not this disable it for you?
synclient touchpadoff=1
with =0 it should enable it again.

Colin

>
> I have heard people say that I should just plug a mouse in, but I don't want to buy myself a mouse just so I can disable my touchpad. But I do think that I could buy myself an "external touchpad". I have my laptop on my lap, and I think that if I plug in an external touchpad, and rest it on the arm of my chair, this setup might just work.
>
> I did a quick search, and found while these devices do exist, I found only a few references where people have wanted to use an external touchpad in Ubuntu, and nothing useful about which vendors might sell a reliable external touchpad (one that would disable the laptop's touchpad when in use and have the same or a similar set of gestures as the internal one) with a recent release of Ubuntu. I hope there's something.
>
> Thanks for letting me know,
>
>   Owen.
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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Robert Heller
In reply to this post by Owen Thomas
At Mon, 21 Dec 2020 00:45:07 +1100 "Ubuntu user technical support,  not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before now,
> it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.

On my *Lenovo Thinkpad R500* laptop, it is possible to disable the touchpad at
the *BIOS* level (which I have done -- I use the point-stick instead). I would
go hunting in BIOS settings land to find a possible setting there.

>
> I have heard people say that I should just plug a mouse in, but I don't
> want to buy myself a mouse just so I can disable my touchpad. But I do
> think that I could buy myself an "external touchpad". I have my laptop on
> my lap, and I think that if I plug in an external touchpad, and rest it on
> the arm of my chair, this setup might just work.
>
> I did a quick search, and found while these devices do exist, I found only
> a few references where people have wanted to use an external touchpad in
> Ubuntu, and nothing useful about which vendors might sell a reliable
> external touchpad (one that would disable the laptop's touchpad when in use
> and have the same or a similar set of gestures as the internal one) with a
> recent release of Ubuntu. I hope there's something.
>

"Standard" USB HID devices like keyboards, keypads, mice, trackballs, and I
expect external touchpads all follow a standard USB HID protocol -- these
devices just plain work, without needing special devices or configuration,
beyond standard things like keyboard layout or left hand vs right hand mice,
etc. Note: typically these devices are "or"ed -- if you plug in a USB keyboard
into your laptop, both the external and internal keyboard work -- you can
alternitively type on both. Ditto with an external pointer device -- both
work. And this includes multiple built in devices -- if I enabled the touchpad
on my laptop, I could use both the touchpad and the pointstick. There is no
protocol for an external HID device disabling an "internal" HID device. And no
(standard) software API for making a hard selection between HID devices. The
Linux GUI subsystem is perfectly happy to work seamlessly with multiple
keyboards (or keyboard-like devices like barcode readers) and multiple pointer
devices (trackballs, touchpads, mice, pointsticks, touchscreens, etc.) all at
the same time.

On my laptop, the touch pad is separate from the keyboard and has its own
connector on the motherboard. As a last resort, you might be able to just
unplug the touchpad from the motherboard. (But I don't know what possible
problems that might cause -- the BIOS might fail a self-test and refuse to
boot the O/S -- I recall a *brain dead* 1990s vintage Dell server that would
refuse to boot without a keyboard plugged in, even with "Halt on no errors"
set in the BIOS!)

> Thanks for letting me know,
>
>   Owen.
>

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Little Girl
In reply to this post by Owen Thomas
Hey there,

Owen Thomas wrote:

>I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before
>now, it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.

I feel your pain. Those devices should all come with a button that
can toggle the touchpads. Anyway, maybe one of these pages will be
useful:

https://askubuntu.com/questions/65951/how-to-disable-the-touchpad

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SynapticsTouchpad

>But I do think that I could buy myself an "external touchpad". I
>have my laptop on my lap, and I think that if I plug in an external
>touchpad, and rest it on the arm of my chair, this setup might just
>work.

While this would give you a touchpad in exactly the location you'd
like it to be, it might not disable the laptop's touchpad, so you may
still accidentally use it while typing. If it works anything like
mice, it will just give you an additional way to access the touchpad.
when I plug a second mouse in, I can use either mouse. One doesn't
disable the other.

Also, if you do this and want to disable the one on the laptop, but
not the external one, that will add a level of complexity to the
toggle script that you end up using to make that happen.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Volker Wysk
In reply to this post by Owen Thomas
Hi!

Am Montag, den 21.12.2020, 00:45 +1100 schrieb Owen Thomas:

> I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before now,
> it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.
>
> I have heard people say that I should just plug a mouse in, but I don't
> want to buy myself a mouse just so I can disable my touchpad. But I do
> think that I could buy myself an "external touchpad". I have my laptop on
> my lap, and I think that if I plug in an external touchpad, and rest it on
> the arm of my chair, this setup might just work.
>
> I did a quick search, and found while these devices do exist, I found only
> a few references where people have wanted to use an external touchpad in
> Ubuntu, and nothing useful about which vendors might sell a reliable
> external touchpad (one that would disable the laptop's touchpad when in
> use and have the same or a similar set of gestures as the internal one)
> with a recent release of Ubuntu. I hope there's something.
On my laptop, I use this command in my ~/.bashrc to turn off the touchpad:

if [ "$DISPLAY" == ":0" ]; then
    xinput --disable "AlpsPS/2 ALPS GlidePoint"
fi

You might be able to knit something. Find out the device name of your
touchpad. xinput will tell you, when I remember correctly. Then use the same
command as above, with the name of your device included.

You'll probably want to turn your touchpad on and off with a key
combination. This can be done in Gnome: assign a key combination to a
command. Although I haven't done this yet, myself.

When I plug in (the radio receiver of) my cordless mouse with the laptop, it
doesn't turn off the touchpad. It possibly wouldn't too, if you pluged in an
external touchpad.

Good luck!
Volker

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Owen Thomas
In reply to this post by Colin Law


On Mon., 21 Dec. 2020, 1:11 am Colin Law, <[hidden email]> wrote:
There was a thread a little while ago, was that the one to which you refer?

Does not this disable it for you?
synclient touchpadoff=1
with =0 it should enable it again.

Thanks Colin. I'm trying to find an option that means I stay away from writing scripts and configuring keyboard shortcuts, but perhaps I am beginning to come round to your suggestion.

I would love Ubuntu to have had a shortcut configured but my wish has gone unanswered these past years and I'm still looking for an option that keeps me away from doing what I'm sure you think is bleedingly obvious.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
On Sun, 20 Dec 2020 at 22:12, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
>
> On Mon., 21 Dec. 2020, 1:11 am Colin Law, <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> There was a thread a little while ago, was that the one to which you refer?
>>
>> Does not this disable it for you?
>> synclient touchpadoff=1
>> with =0 it should enable it again.
>
>
> Thanks Colin. I'm trying to find an option that means I stay away from writing scripts and configuring keyboard shortcuts, but perhaps I am beginning to come round to your suggestion.
>
> I would love Ubuntu to have had a shortcut configured but my wish has gone unanswered these past years and I'm still looking for an option that keeps me away from doing what I'm sure you think is bleedingly obvious.

You don't have to write any scripts, just configure two keyboard
shortcuts to run the synclient commands, one to disable and one to
enable.   Assuming the commands work for you that is.

Colin

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Liam Proven
In reply to this post by Owen Thomas
On Sun, 20 Dec 2020 at 14:47, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I have a laptop computer, and, as I have explained many times before now, it annoys me no end that I cannot disable my touchpad.

Doing a quick search back, you've been asking about this repeatedly since 2017.

The thing is, you've been told where to find the option to disable it.
You've also been told how to assign a hotkey to disable it, and
another hotkey to re-enable it again.

You *can* disable your touchpad.

So I am not seeing what the problem is here.

Also, when you upgraded to 18.04, you did not like the move from Unity
to GNOME. I don't blame you at all; I didn't either.

But I think someone suggested maybe just reinstalling Unity and
switching back to it. That's what I did.

Unity makes turning the trackpad on and off very easy.

I almost exclusively use Lenovo Thinkpads, and have done since they
were IBM Thinkpads. These have _both_ trackpads _and_ trackpoint
"nipple mice". I leave the trackpad on if I'm working on a desk, but
if I'm using the machine in my lap or lying in bed, I disable trackpad
and use only the Trackpoint, the red nipple mouse.

My main laptop is a Thinkpad X220 which I bought used for £125 in
January 2017. It's still going strong, fast and capable.

I don't think you've ever mentioned what laptop you have except a
passing reference to a Dell. If I may make a suggestion, get an old
used Thinkpad, and try it. You might find that you just permanently
disable the trackpad and never look back.

Some Dells and Toshibas have them too, but inferior, less-accurate
versions, IMHO.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Owen Thomas


On Mon., 21 Dec. 2020, 12:19 pm Liam Proven, <[hidden email]> wrote:
So I am not seeing what the problem is here.

I acknowledge that I'm perhaps being too precious Liam. I need a new laptop and, having purchased another Dell (and awaiting its delivery), I'm looking for a way perhaps to accessorise it and deal with the troublesome touchpad without having to remember (forget) a trivial configuration detail. I wanted merely to ask if anyone had used an external touchpad because I had a grand thought that using an external device might be a solution that I will find hard to forget.

Perhaps Colin's suggestion is the best that can be done.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Liam Proven
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 09:59, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I acknowledge that I'm perhaps being too precious Liam. I need a new laptop and, having purchased another Dell (and awaiting its delivery),

Argh! Noooooo! Why didn't you ask?

> I'm looking for a way perhaps to accessorise it and deal with the troublesome touchpad without having to remember (forget) a trivial configuration detail. I wanted merely to ask if anyone had used an external touchpad because I had a grand thought that using an external device might be a solution that I will find hard to forget.

I've tried an Apple Magic Trackpad. Worked fine. Didn't disable the
built-in one automatically, no.

> Perhaps Colin's suggestion is the best that can be done.

ISTM to be an excellent one and to deliver anything that any
BIOS-based solution could. I don't see why you reject it, TBH.


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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Owen Thomas
On Tue., 22 Dec. 2020, 12:52 am Liam Proven, <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 09:59, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I acknowledge that I'm perhaps being too precious Liam. I need a new laptop and, having purchased another Dell (and awaiting its delivery),

Argh! Noooooo! Why didn't you ask?

The usual reason: didn't think it relevant at the time.

> I'm looking for a way perhaps to accessorise it and deal with the troublesome touchpad without having to remember (forget) a trivial configuration detail. I wanted merely to ask if anyone had used an external touchpad because I had a grand thought that using an external device might be a solution that I will find hard to forget.

I've tried an Apple Magic Trackpad. Worked fine. Didn't disable the
built-in one automatically, no.

Bum! Your advice renders my objective unreachable with an external touchpad. I did see your point made in other posts too, and hence it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge this.


> Perhaps Colin's suggestion is the best that can be done.

ISTM to be an excellent one and to deliver anything that any
BIOS-based solution could. I don't see why you reject it, TBH.

I'm sure the solution is completely effective and will give me precisely what I want. A couple of questions that come to mind about this solution are these: First, why do I have to implement this myself? Shouldn't Ubuntu automatically support touchpad disablement like any other self respecting OS? Second, some touchpad manufacturers had a disablement feature built into the touchpad itself - neither the BIOS nor the OS were involved when the user wanted to turn their touchpad off and back on. Why remove this feature?

I understand people here might not have an answer to the second question, but surely the community could address the first?

Goodo.

  Owen.


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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 20:36, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Shouldn't Ubuntu automatically support touchpad disablement like any other self respecting OS?

It does, it is, oddly enough, in Settings > Mouse & Touchpad, but I
thought you wanted to enable/disable it with hotkeys or a switch or
something like that rather than the trouble of going into the
settings.

Colin

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Ian Bruntlett
Hi Colin,

On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 20:47, Colin Law <[hidden email]> wrote:
It does, it is, oddly enough, in Settings > Mouse & Touchpad, but I
thought you wanted to enable/disable it with hotkeys or a switch or
something like that rather than the trouble of going into the
settings.

Settings looks quite useful. Is there any official documentation for it, from an end-users point of view?
Googling for "Ubuntu settings" didn't find much but I did find out that "settings" is, in fact gnome-control-center, complete with man page.

Also, I wanted to read its source code, just out of curiosity. Looks like it is written in C, using GTK.

TIA,


Ian

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Owen Thomas
In reply to this post by Colin Law
On Tue., 22 Dec. 2020, 7:47 am Colin Law, <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 20:36, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Shouldn't Ubuntu automatically support touchpad disablement like any other self respecting OS?

It does, it is, oddly enough, in Settings > Mouse & Touchpad, but I
thought you wanted to enable/disable it with hotkeys or a switch or
something like that rather than the trouble of going into the
settings.

Is that always true? Perhaps I'm wrong again, but I thought I checked fairly comprehensively on my old Latitude E5570 (I had the thing for at least five years), but couldn't locate the feature. However, yes, a mere hotkey to toggle would be a good solution because the navigation you describe is tedious - especially when the touchpad is disabled and one only has the keyboard to navigate. Perhaps Windows indeed has a similar problem although I probably should claim ignorance of Windows whenever I make statements about that OS;  I haven't used it in more than a decade.

I did mention to Dell when I bought my new laptop that the user should be able to toggle touchpad sensitivity with one of their proprietary Fn key combinations, but I'm not sure that they listened.

  Owen

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
In reply to this post by Ian Bruntlett
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 21:16, Ian Bruntlett <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Hi Colin,
>
> On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 20:47, Colin Law <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> It does, it is, oddly enough, in Settings > Mouse & Touchpad, but I
>> thought you wanted to enable/disable it with hotkeys or a switch or
>> something like that rather than the trouble of going into the
>> settings.
>
>
> Settings looks quite useful. Is there any official documentation for it, from an end-users point of view?
> Googling for "Ubuntu settings" didn't find much but I did find out that "settings" is, in fact gnome-control-center, complete with man page.

To run Settings on standard Ubuntu (Gnome) you run it like any other
app.  Hit the Super key and type Settings in the search field.  In
fact if you type
touch
in the search field it will take you straight to the touchpad settings.
I am not sure how much documentation you need for an on/off switch
labelled Touchpad.

Colin

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
In reply to this post by Owen Thomas
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 21:20, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Tue., 22 Dec. 2020, 7:47 am Colin Law, <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 20:36, Owen Thomas <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> >
>> > Shouldn't Ubuntu automatically support touchpad disablement like any other self respecting OS?
>>
>> It does, it is, oddly enough, in Settings > Mouse & Touchpad, but I
>> thought you wanted to enable/disable it with hotkeys or a switch or
>> something like that rather than the trouble of going into the
>> settings.
>
>
> Is that always true? Perhaps I'm wrong again, but I thought I checked fairly comprehensively on my old Latitude E5570 (I had the thing for at least five years), but couldn't locate the feature.

I think there may have been a period when it was missing, but it is
certainly there on my Fujitsu Lifebook running 20.04.

> However, yes, a mere hotkey to toggle would be a good solution because the navigation you describe is tedious - especially when the touchpad is disabled and one only has the keyboard to navigate. Perhaps Windows indeed has a similar problem although I probably should claim ignorance of Windows whenever I make statements about that OS;  I haven't used it in more than a decade.

As I mentioned above, if you hit the Super key and type
touch
it takes you straight to that dialog.  However, I have to admit that
if the touchpad is disabled and you don't have a mouse plugged in then
I can't actually work out how to use the keyboard to navigate to the
Touchpad enable switch, which is a bit of a bummer.

Colin

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Ian Bruntlett
In reply to this post by Colin Law
Hi Colin,

Pardon me for jumping in...

On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 21:36, Colin Law <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Settings looks quite useful. Is there any official documentation for it, from an end-users point of view?
> Googling for "Ubuntu settings" didn't find much but I did find out that "settings" is, in fact gnome-control-center, complete with man page.

To run Settings on standard Ubuntu (Gnome) you run it like any other
app.  Hit the Super key and type Settings in the search field.  In
fact if you type
touch
in the search field it will take you straight to the touchpad settings.

I think you read my message as if I was one of the other posters. My message indirectly stated I could run GNOME settings.
 
I am not sure how much documentation you need for an on/off switch
labelled Touchpad.

That isn't my problem. I am interested to see the developers' end user documentation. Turns out that the developers want someone to update the docs. It looks like a lot of work has been put into this program. There is some info, buried away here: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-control-center/-/blob/master/NEWS

TTFN,


Ian

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Colin Law
On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 21:55, Ian Bruntlett <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Hi Colin,
>
> Pardon me for jumping in...
>
> On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 21:36, Colin Law <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> > Settings looks quite useful. Is there any official documentation for it, from an end-users point of view?
>> > Googling for "Ubuntu settings" didn't find much but I did find out that "settings" is, in fact gnome-control-center, complete with man page.
>>
>> To run Settings on standard Ubuntu (Gnome) you run it like any other
>> app.  Hit the Super key and type Settings in the search field.  In
>> fact if you type
>> touch
>> in the search field it will take you straight to the touchpad settings.
>
>
> I think you read my message as if I was one of the other posters. My message indirectly stated I could run GNOME settings.

Yes, I did misunderstand your question, I read it as meaning that you
had to use Google to work out how to run it and ended up by explicitly
running gnome-control-center, and was looking for end user
documentation on how to open and use it.
Sorry, I don't know anything about the code.

Colin

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Karl Auer
In reply to this post by Colin Law
On Mon, 2020-12-21 at 21:43 +0000, Colin Law wrote:
> it takes you straight to that dialog.  However, I have to admit that
> if the touchpad is disabled and you don't have a mouse plugged in
> then I can't actually work out how to use the keyboard to navigate to
> the Touchpad enable switch, which is a bit of a bummer.

Once the dialogue is open and has focus, press Tab and/or use the arrow
keys until the relevant item is highlighted.

So far so good :-)

BUT: Actually toggling the setting doesn't seem to be possible without
a mouse. At least, I haven't found a key combination that changes the
toggle.

Regards, K.

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Re: External touchpad for Ubuntu?

Bob
** Reply to message from Karl Auer <[hidden email]> on Tue, 22 Dec 2020
09:24:02 +1100

> On Mon, 2020-12-21 at 21:43 +0000, Colin Law wrote:
> > it takes you straight to that dialog.  However, I have to admit that
> > if the touchpad is disabled and you don't have a mouse plugged in
> > then I can't actually work out how to use the keyboard to navigate to
> > the Touchpad enable switch, which is a bit of a bummer.
>
> Once the dialogue is open and has focus, press Tab and/or use the arrow
> keys until the relevant item is highlighted.
>
> So far so good :-)
>
> BUT: Actually toggling the setting doesn't seem to be possible without
> a mouse. At least, I haven't found a key combination that changes the
> toggle.

It seems to me that people are making this more complicated than it really is.

I have :xinput disable 15" (find the device ID using xinput list) in my
.profile and a small bash script to toggle the touchpad enable/disable.
Assigning that simple command to a key combination should be very easy.

--
Robert Blair


When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation! -- Adrian Rogers

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