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My question stems from the fact that I could use my Synaptics Clickpad perfectly in OpenSuSE, but cannot in Ubuntu 12.04. Earlier versions also had problems.

I got the xorg-x11-driver-input-7.6-41.38.2.src.rpm package from OpenSuSE sources, however, make complains about a missing xorg-server package. I'm not surprised, the names in Ubuntu seem not exactly the same.

Since I have come across such problems where the solution exists, can anyone give me a good starting point on how to start porting and writing code for Ubuntu?

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OpenSuse is built on .rpm packages which are not interchangeable with .debs.

Your best bet is to use "Alien" to repackage / transform RPM's to DEB

to get alien:

sudo apt-get install alien 

alien RPM/how to

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