Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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Jumpin' Flash Jack: Fixing a jumpy touchpad on the Dell XPS 13 9370 (Ubuntu OEM) under 19.04

Posted: Jul 01, 2019 13:07;
Last Modified: Jul 01, 2019 13:07

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Touchpads are notoriously jumpy things in Linux.

In my case I was having real trouble with the touchpad. Hitting a key would often (at random intervals) cause the cursor to relocate to wherever the pointer was in the screen. It made any kind of work with the touchpad next to impossible. There are controls for this (including a “disable the touchpad while typing” command), but they didn’t seem to affect performance at all.

Dell has an advice page on fixing this that was developed for the 16.04 LTS Ubuntu (I.e. the version that came out in spring 2016). I’m using 19.04, which isn’t a LTS version. So not all the commands worked for me—for example, there are no “HWE” kernels available for 19.04.

In the end I got things to work mostly (the cursor now only jumps after I hit return or occasionally if I use shift), using the following:

  1. blacklisting the synaptics driver (their step 7): sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/*synaptics.conf
  2. adding explicit options to libinput (their step 8): sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/*libinput.conf

Like I said. It isn’t perfect (typing shift+colon in the line above cause the cursor to jump, and indeed it also jumped as I typed “shift” in this line). But it is much better.

Update: I suddenly thought I should look at what options are available for libinput. Doing that suggested that maybe just turning tap off might be an idea. I expressly click anyway, by pushing down, rather than lightly tapping.

So I changed the options under the second step above (Dell’s step 8) to read “False” for both “Tapping” and “TapDragging.”

The result seems to be a lot better. I’ve had one unexpected jump since I rebooted after that. I think it is now working properly.

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