Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Currently there are just too many places to set touchpad properties and behaviour.

  1. The default sytem settings moused and touchpad tool.
  2. The dconf-editor key /org/gnome/settings-daemon/plugins/mouse/
  3. The synclient tool
  4. The syndaemon tool
  5. The xinput tool
  6. The gpointing-device-settings tool.
  7. Editing files inside the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ directory

I wouldn't be surprised if there were even more places....

Can I use a single place to control the touchpad, and get rid of overthing else? Synclient seems to cover all the bases, but should I do this a different way?

Currently syndaemon seems to be run by lightdm, and I can't tell if it's interfering with my synclient settings referring to disabling the touchpad while typing, or not. I also wouldn't know how to stop lightdm from starting an instance of syndaemon if that was the case.

The gpointing-device-settings tool, while nice, seems obsolete and doesn't write the settings anywhere meaningful, so it has to be run each time the system is either woken up from sleep or reboot.

It seems the key at dconf-editor must be deactivated in order for X11 to gain control over the touchpad, otherwise there's no way to know who's controlling who (X11 or Gnome). Why are there two instances of controlling the touchpad. Is it better to leave Gnome under control or X11?

There's no way to tell what the default system settings touchpad section does, after using any of the other methods. Is it overriden by synclient, xinput, xorg.conf.d files or viceversa?

Finally, it's unclear if I should use synclient or xinput, which one takes precedence, etc.

I'd appreciate any guidance here.

share|improve this question

Different desktops use different methods. Unfortunately, it depends wholly on where the touchpad driver looks in your session. For example, Puppy Linux with JWM uses flsynclient, KDE uses (what at least used to be) Synaptiks. Really, it depends on which desktop you use. Generally speaking, it is best to leave it to whatever environment you use. If you use something like KDE and GNOME side-by-side, you may need to modify the X11 config files directly, because their individual settings don't interact. However, if you use GNOME or Xfce etc. almost exclusively, use the settings from that desktop.

The reason is simply convenience. If you edit X's configuration or use a third-party tool, when GNOME tries to shut off the touchpad, say for typing, it may be overridden by the environment. Extensions that manage touchpad will probably not work. Even if they do work, their settings are likely to be unreliable because when they do some automatic change, they will take over. On next reboot the system will have control because that's the way you have it set up.

The only case where another client is necessary is if you really need more settings than the environment you use offers.

Note that LightDM has its own user, and so you can log in using Su to change the settings. I believe that the lightdm user has a gnome control center as well and can set settings for touchpad that way, but I have no way of telling for sure.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.