I'm building a kiosk using Ubuntu Precise on a touch screen. Now I'm looking for the appropriate way to make the mouse cursor disappear. As people know where they are pointing, displaying an arrow under their finger is useless, and having an arrow where they last pointed even more so.

My best bet would be some kind of cursor theme consisting only of transparent cursors. I'm a bit surprised to find no UI to switch and maybe install cursor themes in the default Unity UI, but as I won't be using Unity, that's not much of a problem. It appears that the alternatives listed in update-alternatives --list x-cursor-theme all refer to .theme files, so I searched the package list for those. The resulting list does not list any likely candidates, i.e. no packages containing “invisible” or “transparent” in their name.

So far, some googled result yielding a readme for “XCursor Transparent Theme” is my best bet. That would mean compiling those sources myself, perhaps putting them into my PPA. I'm also a bit sceptical about that result as said readme is dated from 2003. And I'm not sure that I'm not making things overly complicated. After all, there is quite some support in Precise for touch devices, so I don't believe I'm the first one who wants to get rid of his mouse cursor.

  • Is there another way which doesn't involve user-compiled binary code?
  • Is there a theme package for transparent cursors which I've overlooked?
  • Is there some other mechanism to make the cursor disappear without changing the cursor theme?

I'll be using Matchbox WM, Firefox and Java applets, so I'll be happy with any solution working under such a setup. I'm not interested in any solutions twiddling with Gnome or Compiz, as I'll not be running either.

7 Answers 7


Try unclutter.

The purpose of this program is to hide the pointer after the mouse has not moved for a while. Using it, you can make the pointer appear only when the user touches the screen, and disappear right after it. Maybe this was not exactly what you were aiming for, but it is much easier than your alternative.

To use it, first install it:

sudo apt-get install unclutter

then run it:

unclutter -idle 0.01 -root

The number in the above command is the number of seconds before the pointer disappears (in this case, 1/100 seconds).

  • 2
    If you combine this solution with an icon theme that looks like a small ring, it should look pretty nice even with 0.1 second delay. In that case, the delay would work as visual confirmation that the display detected the touch. Jan 11, 2016 at 13:46
  • cool idea! do you have such a theme? I'd love to add a recommendation to the answer
    – josinalvo
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:15
  • 2
    Sorry, I'm not aware of existing theme. It should not be too hard to create such theme manually. Create suitable PNG file and use xcursorgen to create X11 cursor file. Then you need to write cursor.theme file, put cursor files in subdirectory cursors and create a ZIP file from the whole thing. See ehow.com/how_5026012_make-cursors-file-ubuntu.html and freedesktop.org/wiki/Specifications/cursor-spec/?action=print and some existing theme gnome-look.org/?xcontentmode=36 for more details. Jan 13, 2016 at 11:19
  • amazing, perfect symbiosis with NoMachine! thx! Sep 1, 2016 at 2:42
  • Sometimes using unclutter can make the application lose focus, for example when browsing the web the mouse wheel may not work until you click or move the mouse pointer. Just have it in mind so you don't think it's a bug in the web browser like I did ;)
    – golimar
    Aug 7, 2018 at 10:55

If you never want the cursor to appear (appropriate for touchscreens) unclutter won't suffice from my experience. Instead you can use use -nocursor when starting X.


startx -nocursor

See http://www.x.org/wiki/AdvancedTopicsFAQ/#index1h2

  • 3
    Great answer! It worked for me only like this: startx -- -nocursor
    – czerasz
    Jan 25, 2015 at 22:27
  • 9
    Is there a way to change this variable after X has started? Jan 8, 2017 at 11:00
  • @AaronFranke You could do unclutter -idle 0.0001 --start-hidden --jitter 999999 --ignore-scrolling --ignore-buttons 1,2,3 which should hide it until you kill the command but it might flicker and appear sometimes Jan 1, 2022 at 22:18

If you are using lightdm:

Edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf by adding:

xserver-command=X -bs -core -nocursor

if you are using nodm:

Edit /etc/default/nodm by replacing:

NODM_X_OPTIONS='-nolisten tcp'


NODM_X_OPTIONS='-nolisten tcp -nocursor'

This is building from Gibbs very helpful answer

  • Are -bs and -core really necessary? My lightdm commented default is plain X, and setting to xserver-command=X -nocursor hides the cursor.
    – Andreas
    Nov 25, 2019 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Andreas, the "-bs -core" arguments were in my lightdm.conf file at the time of writing. If they aren't in yours, I would guess that they aren't necessary. I just needed to add "nocursor" to make this work.
    – Peter
    Nov 26, 2019 at 18:33

Ubuntu 16.04

Open /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-xserver-command.conf and edit this line:

xserver-command=X -core

Append -nocursor to it. Like this:

xserver-command=X -core -nocursor

Save and restart.

Warning: Like other answers on this question, mistakes on this file will prevent Xorg initialization. Anyway, you can still can login to terminal and revert.

  • NOTE: this might break login on your machine. Use with caution.
    – Igor Pejic
    Jun 19, 2018 at 8:44
  • 1
    @Igor while a valid point, a mistake on this file will prevent Xorg initialization. So user still can login to terminal and revert. Anyway, I'll add a mention to this. Jun 19, 2018 at 11:59

Another Option is to set the cursor theme in ubuntu to an invisible theme. For that I created one. You can find it here https://github.com/gysi/ubuntu-invis-cursor-theme


Another option I have found is to use xbanish.

  1. Clone the repository into your directory of choice
git clone https://github.com/jcs/xbanish
  1. (optional) I had to make sure that libxt-dev was installed with
sudo apt install libxt-dev
  1. After making sure that you are in the xbanish directory, make the file by just running
  1. Now you may run with

You should note that this solution will only work if you have the program running, so you may want to set it to run at start up as well.


Unclutter new x11 version has some options of note start hidden and hide on touch https://github.com/Airblader/unclutter-xfixes/blob/master/src/unclutter.c

Change unclutter.c

Config config = { .timeout = 0, //default 5 .jitter = 0, .exclude_root = false, .ignore_scrolling = false, .ignore_buttons.count = 0, .ignore_buttons.buttons = NULL, .hide_on_touch = true, //default false .fork = false, .debug = false, .onescreen = false, .ignore_matches = false, .matches = NULL, .start_hidden = true //default false };

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