I have a Macbook 5,1. That is to say that it is the only 13 inch aluminium Macbook as the later revisions were renamed Macbook Pro.

Two-finger scrolling seems to work fine but dragging doesn't work. In OsX this works so that you point an object, click and keep your finger pressed on the touch pad while slide another finger to move the cursor. This causes weird and undefined behavior in Ubuntu as it seems the driver doesn't recognize this as dragging. Any ideas?


Thumb-down dragging in Ubuntu Maverick on newer Macbook( Pro)s is currently supported only by the new, currently non-configurable, but quite functional independently written "multitouch" X input driver from the mactel PPA. (Canonical hasn't written utouch support for MB(P)s yet.)

From one of the official Macbook or MacBook Pro Maverick hardware support pages--

To enable the multitouch drivers, add the mactel ppa:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mactel-support && sudo apt-get update

Then run this in a console:

sudo apt-get install xf86-input-multitouch bcm5974-dkms

Then add this to the new file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/99-multitouch.conf (on Maverick and later) with the same permissions as the other files in the directory:

Section "InputClass"
    MatchIsTouchpad "true"
    Identifier "Multitouch Touchpad"
    Driver "multitouch"

You can then get three-finger gestures working using mouse "buttons" 8, 9, 10, and 11 (use xev to view them) via imwheel (Ubuntu universe). I'm going to finish that part another day, though xev is clearly showing the "press" of the "buttons" to indicate it's ready to be hooked up.

To see if this applies to your model, you should go to Ubuntu.com Help Community MacBook or MacBookPro page and find your system, or something close to it, for the Ubuntu version you are using (stick to the correct version!) in the grey box on the right at the top. Currently, many of the systems have out-of-date or incomplete information. However, Apple changes little between versions, so you'll be able to use information from almost any machine's page (read them all!). The MacBook Pro 7,1 Maverick page has the most complete information for Maverick as far as I've seen, though the Maverick MBP 5,5, 5,3, and 6,2 pages also have info not found elsewhere that I needed. That's where this information came from.

More info on PPAs:


Just have a look at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBookPro7-1/Maverick

It describes the necessary steps to get Ubuntu working, e.g.

two-finger scrolling and horizontal scrolling can be enabled through the mouse preferences

I'm using my Macbook with Ubuntu everyday. Though a small number of technical things on OSX still work better (faster WLAN connect, faster sleep/wakeup), I'm much more satisfied with the usability of Ubuntu, the package-management and the available open-source-software.

  • 1
    In terms of the scrolling for example, is it smooth and eased with momentum like in OSX? or is it jumpy. – jondavidjohn Feb 2 '11 at 13:46
  • Jumpy. Scrolling is moving a page 5 pixels at a time. It's not pretty. – user6658 Feb 6 '11 at 2:55

The driver on my MacBook Air that was installed for 11.10 is called "multitouch" (perhaps it is the same one mentioned in another answer), but I had the same issue with not being able to use two finger click and drag. I finally found the mtrack driver, which I found can be tweaked to behave nearly like the OS X driver, including two finger click and drag.

See my post here: https://askubuntu.com/a/103030/43660 for instructions on how to install and configure mtrack.


Have you tried using the utouch package?

sudo apt-get install utouch

It is supposed to have extra support for multitouch pads.

  • This is for Magic Trackpads, not for Macbooks yet. This is supposed to change. – A Student at a University Feb 14 '11 at 0:04

If you'd like to try 'mtrack'. You'll also need to map the mouse button to the key strokes that triggers something, e.g. switch workspace.

The next steps are:

  1. Either use 'xev' to detect the mouse button or 'mtrack''s readme file on github to make sure which gesture produces what button number, e.g. three finger swipe up is button number 8.

  2. Install xte, xbindkeys and xautomation to map the 'gesture' mouse key number to your desired keystrokes. After the installation, create user config file for xbindkeys use this line:

    xbindkeys --defaults > $HOME/.xbindkeysrc

then, put your configurations in the file, for example, in my case, two finger scroll up/down in xev has mouse button 4 and 5.

# Scroll Up
# it means xbindkeys will send arguments 'keydown Up' and 'keyup Up'
# to xte when mtrack detects gesture 'two finger scroll up'
"xte 'keydown Up' 'keyup Up'"

# Scroll Down    
"xte 'keydown Down' 'keyup Down'"

Another argument is 'key', it means 'keydown' + 'keyup'. And you may need to reboot several times to find the best keystrokes (this is what I apent for an entire afternoon, I got a load of gestures tho).

Please feel free to take my configuration as reference at here. My version is more OS X like.

If you would like to know more about where the result came from, I also left some references in that post.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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