libinput and ubuntu 15.10 + 16.04

October 13, 2015

Why is there an issue?

One area that X has really fallen down on is the driver for the touchpad. It’s passable if you tweak it .. but why settle for passable? Shouldn’t the open source world have a KILLER touchpad implementation ala OSX?

For a very brief time I owned a Macbook Air and that’s the single biggest thing I miss about that hardware – Apple completely NAILED their touchpad feel. It feels natural and like an extension of your hand/fingers. You NEVER are frustrated with it.

…in steps libinput

You can read about libinput gory detailsย on the projects wiki page. The long and short of it is that with wayland maturing and with the touchpad driver tightly coupled with xorg (and not very good or modern) there was a need for a better designed driver. Peter Hutterer (who-t) and some others have spearheaded this effort and have something quite polished and ready to show for it. And the best thing is you can run it as the driver within xorg!!!! This means you don’t have to run wayland OR Mir to enjoy your cake NOW!!! CAKE!!!

How do I run it!?

If you are running ubuntu 15.10 or 16.04, I answered the question on askubuntu.ย I’m not sure the steps on other distributions …

I also imagine this won’t be fully integrated into Ubuntu system configurations until Mir is integrated (i.e. natural scrolling checkbox, increase/decrease double click time/other tweaks via the Control Panel). Canonical has announced that they intend on utilizing libinput, I hope this is still true – it would be lovely if this integrated into the Control Panel in 15.10 if you install libinput – for now follow my directions on askubuntu (link above) and adjust the text file to add PalmDetection and Tapping.



  • Reply Douglas Shaftoe January 20, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Hey there,

    Great blog, very useful in helping me get my XPS 13 setup and running smooth with ubuntu.

    One thing I’m missing is multitouch gestures, it would be great to do 3 finger swipes to switch workspaces.

    I found this project …

    …that seems to deliver the necessaries, it’s aimed at Archlinux but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with Ubuntu, after changing the config around to suit.

    However it was not as easy as I anticipated. The problem I’m running into is that it requires “libinput-list-devices” which doesn’t come with the ubuntu repo version (or maybe it does, I’ve tried so much at this point I don’t remember..haha), so I got it installed but when I run it I get the following error

    >> libinput-list-devices: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ version `LIBINPUT_1.1′ not found (required by libinput-list-devices)

    Would love a second opinion if you have the time, thanks!

    • Reply Jim Basilio January 20, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      I don’t fully understand the entire stack, but I think the core issue is that the xorg-libinput driver is a wrapper around libinput for X usage. This isn’t using all the goodies that libinput provides, only connecting X to libinput for handling the mouse. I THINK until there’s a real (native) libinput use (i.e. wayland or Mir) you won’t have access to the other tools/goodies.

      With ubuntu 16.04 and the introduction of Mir, I expect that libinput will be available natively since Canonical has stated they intend to use libinput and IIRC the libinput author stated they connected things with him and are on track (I could be wrong here, but it’s the best of my recollection).

      TL;DR – the x libinput driver doesn’t expose all of libinput and you’ll need to wait until wayland or mir or switch to gnome/wayland and use libinput-gestures as it was intended (with gnome/wayland).

      good luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply Douglas Shaftoe January 21, 2016 at 8:05 am

        Ah that sucks, I guess we wait…

        One more thing, today I started experience a weird error in which when I single tapped the touch pad it would register as a double tap among other strange related things.

        Have you experienced this?

        • Reply Jim Basilio January 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm

          i haven’t experienced any weirdness at all with libinput. a couple times on a resume the mouse hasn’t been there and i’ve had to logout or reboot, but that hasn’t been frequent.

          i’m definitely looking forward to trying 16.04 with (hopefully) proper libinput integration into the ‘all settings’ control panel. since mir will be experimental though i dunno how bulletproof this will be. 16.10 should be a blast though (and here’s to hoping for 16.04). ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Kou February 2, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Thanks for the clear instructions on getting libinput installed. Having the “resting thumb” issue fixed makes using the trackpad a lot smoother (pun intended).

    I know there is an option in libinput to specify an acceleration value, but how does one go about adjusting the speed of the trackpad? Changing it in Unity’s mouse settings does not make a difference, unfortunately. I appreciate any help I can get!

    • Reply Jim Basilio February 2, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Glad you got it working. It’s quite a bit better even though it’s not nearly as good as it will be with Mir/Wayland.

      As far as options, if you type ‘man libinput’ you’ll see a full list of options you can tweak. Looks like there’s an AccelSpeed option among others. If you find a nice config let me know what it is and I’ll try it out. I’ve been pretty happy with the defaults on my galago and xps13 so far.


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