Lately whilst browsing the web the mouse will "hold down left click" and not let go -- i.e. I get a closed hand icon that can move around but doesn't interact with the screen. Restarting the OS solves it but I don't want to to continually lose what I'm working on.

This is a problem with trackpad or USB mouse equally. From googling it looks like since Ubuntu 8 or earlier there has been a problem with Xorg whereby mouse errors in Firefox cause this problem.

The error was also noticed by this user: USB mouse moves but doesn't accept left clicks

I was able to solve the problem once by closing openbox and restarting with awesome but today that's not working. Any other ideas? Could I restart Xorg without losing everything and thereby "restart the mouse"?

  • This is not an answer to your problem, but does restarting the X server (configurable shortcut in Keyboard Preferences - Ctrl-Alt-Backspace) solve your problem? – fouric Jun 25 '12 at 2:04
  • @InkBlend Somewhere else said that keycut is now Alt+PrtSc+K but I'm afraid I'll lose all my windows if I try it. – isomorphismes Jun 25 '12 at 2:16
  • You will lose all of your windows doing it, so do a test run (open up Firefox and Gedit and surf around for a while) when that is not likely to bother you. Besides, having to log back on is better than having to restart your computer. – fouric Jun 25 '12 at 2:28
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    Any luck with this? I'm interested in this problem as well... – algebralives Jul 23 '12 at 20:08

I have the same problem and it has nothing to do with Firefox in my case.

Its definitely NOT a hardware problem (I've tried multiple mice).

The symptoms : I do "something" (haven't quite put my finger on it yet) that causes the left mouse button to appear stuck down (its like a MOUSE_DOWN event happened, but never a corresponding MOUSE_UP event).

The stuck mouse button seems to manifest itself mostly in Intellij IDEA, which basically becomes unusable.

I generally have the following three programs running at all times :

  • Intellij IDEA
  • Virtual Box (usually running a few windows VMs)
  • Chromium

To solve the problem, I end up having to reboot (which kills a lot of time, because I have to alsy cycle the VMs).

As far as what triggers this problem - it is somewhat hard to determine but I think it may have something to do with using the mousewheel while the focus is on one of the virtual box VMs.

One other thing I've noticed is that the problem only seems to happen in Unity. If I choose Gnome shell then I've not had the issue (but I end up coming back to Unity since its grown on me).

  • Interesting observations. Hopefully they're helpful to the next person struggling with this. – isomorphismes Aug 23 '12 at 23:03


As it turned out Firefox was causing this problem. Going into a VT (Ctrl+Alt+F6, login, ls, top to orient yourself) and killall firefox fixed the problem.

(If after a minute or two firefox has not died, do top -u algebralives in the VT and look for the process id (PID, leftmost column) associated with the word firefox in the top screen. Hit the letter q whilst the line with firefox in it is still visible, then try kill -9 82734 (assuming 82734 was the PID number associated with Firefox). The -9 has to do with which internal kill code the wider system process sends to the specific firefox daemon process. Nine meaning: no really, seriously, kill it.)

However I hate risking the loss of whatever windows & tabs I have open in my firefox session. Most of the web browsers do not have perfect session management. So since I have plenty of space on this computer, from the virtual terminal (see above) I copied ~/.cache/firefox/ and ~/.config/firefox/ (but not ~/.mozilla/) to a new directory (like cd ~; mkdir firefoxbackup) before killall firefox.

Then I restart Firefox and if it forgot all of my session info, instead of punching through the drywall I just copy ~/firefoxbackup/.cache/firefox/ and ~/firefoxbackup/.config/firefox/ back onto where they were and my session should be as it was.


Hit Ctrl+Alt+F6 (switch in console mode), and after Ctrl+Alt+F7 for return in graphic mode (my mouse has always start to work again).

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