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Touchpad issues under Arch

Posted 09-25-2016 at 09:47 PM by drask

Here's an issue that I keep having ever since I switched to Arch. Most of my computers are Dell Latitude laptops, which use an AlpsPS/2 ALPS DualPoint TouchPad. After installing Arch Linux on them, I always end up with a strange situation where any time I put my finger on the pad, the mouse cursor jumps to that location within a small square about half the size of my screen, making it impossible to move the mouse out of that square.

So, to move the mouse to the upper left part of the screen to activate the Mate Applications menu, for instance, one would normally start with their finger in the lower-right quadrant of the mousepad, draw a line to the upper left corner, then, upon reaching the edge of the mousepad, pick up the finger and return it to the lower right corner, leaving the mouse cursor in place until the finger contacts the mousepad again, then continuing the journey to the upper left and repeating as necessary until the corner is reached. In this case, however, as soon as you touch the lower right corner of the mousepad, the mouse jumps to the lower right corner of the screen again, and it is impossible to move the mouse to the upper left-most part of the screen. It is, in fact, impossible to move it outside an invisible rectangle in the middle of the screen.

I've been unable to find anything online about this behavior, although it has happened to me on at least three occasions now. Lot of information about overly sensitive mousepads or disabling mousepads when mice are plugged in, but nothing about this very specific problem.

I've had to figure this out three times now, so I'm writing it down for next time. You have to install the synaptics mousepad driver:

$ sudo pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics
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