Using Xinput To Temporarily Disable Touchpads While Vim Is Active

The article, ‘Using xinput to Temporarily Disable Touchpads While Vim is Active,’ provides a comprehensive guide on how to manage touchpad functionality using xinput when working with Vim. It covers the essentials of xinput, scripting methods to disable the touchpad during Vim sessions, and advanced configurations for touchpad settings. The article also addresses troubleshooting common issues, integrating enhancements into system settings, and ensuring compatibility with various desktop environments and hardware.

Key Takeaways

  • xinput can be configured to temporarily disable touchpads during Vim sessions, enhancing typing accuracy and preventing accidental touches.
  • Custom scripts can be created to detect when Vim is in focus and automatically toggle touchpad functionality, ensuring a seamless user experience.
  • Advanced touchpad settings, such as sensitivity adjustments and button remapping, can be managed through xinput and Xorg configuration files.
  • Troubleshooting touchpad issues may involve using tools like libinput-debug-events and ensuring proper kernel and hardware support.
  • Persistent touchpad configurations can be achieved by overriding default system settings and leveraging environment variables for consistent behavior.

Understanding xinput and Touchpad Configuration

Introduction to xinput

After installing the necessary packages, such as xorg-xinput, users gain the ability to modify input device settings at runtime. xinput is a powerful tool that interacts with the X.Org input driver, which supports a wide range of input devices, including advanced touchpad features.

To begin working with xinput, one must first identify the connected input devices. This is done using the command:

$ xinput list

This command displays all connected devices, allowing users to note the names and numbers required for further configuration. Once the device is identified, its properties can be listed and modified using the following commands:

$ xinput list-props <device>
$ xinput set-prop <device> <option> <setting>

For example, to enable specific touchpad features, you might use a command like:

$ xinput set-prop 14 303 1 1

It’s essential to understand the device properties and how to manipulate them to customize touchpad behavior effectively.

Remember that while xinput provides immediate changes, these modifications are not persistent across reboots. For permanent configurations, other methods such as Xorg configuration files or system settings must be employed.

Configuring Touchpad Settings with xinput

Once you’ve identified your touchpad using xinput list, you can begin to configure its settings to suit your preferences. xinput set-prop is the command used to change the properties of an input device. For example, to enable tapping on the touchpad, you might use a command like xinput set-prop 14 "Tapping" "on", where 14 is the device ID for your touchpad.

It’s important to note that changes made with xinput are temporary and will be reset after a reboot. To make permanent changes, you should edit the Xorg configuration files, typically located in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/.

For more structured settings, such as button remapping, you can refer to the configuration files directly. Here’s an example of how to remap touchpad buttons in an Xorg configuration file:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "touchpad"
    Driver "libinput"
    Option "ButtonMapping" "1 3 2"

This will swap the right and middle mouse button functions for the touchpad. Remember to replace Identifier and other options as necessary for your specific device.

Interpreting xinput Properties and Commands

Once you’re familiar with listing devices and their properties using xinput list and [xinput list-props device](, the next step is to understand how to interpret and modify these settings. Interpreting the output of these commands is crucial for customizing your touchpad’s behavior to suit your needs.

To modify a property, the xinput set-prop command is used. This command requires the device identifier and the property you wish to change, followed by the new setting values. For example, to enable a specific click method on a touchpad, you might use a command like $ xinput set-prop 14 "libinput Click Method Enabled" 1 1, where 14 is the device number, libinput Click Method Enabled is the property, and 1 1 are the new values for the property.

It’s important to note that device numbers can change between sessions, so it’s often safer to use device names when scripting.

If you need to make permanent changes to device properties, you can do so through Xorg configuration files. This is particularly useful for settings that you want to persist across reboots. Remember to check for any legacy configuration files that might override your settings.

Lastly, for identifying physical button mappings, the xev utility can be invaluable. It helps you understand which button IDs correspond to the physical buttons on your device.

Customizing Touchpad Behavior in Vim

Detecting Vim Focus to Control Touchpad State

To ensure a seamless coding experience in Vim, it’s crucial to detect when Vim gains or loses focus to control the touchpad state accordingly. Automating the touchpad disablement when Vim is active prevents accidental cursor movements or clicks that can disrupt the editing process.

To achieve this, one can utilize xinput to monitor the touchpad’s activity state. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide:

  • Identify the touchpad device with xinput list and note the device id.
  • Use xinput --watch-props <device id> to observe property changes.
  • Create a script that toggles the touchpad’s enabled state based on Vim’s focus.
  • Employ autocmd in Vim to trigger the script when entering or leaving the editor.

This approach not only enhances productivity but also tailors the development environment to the user’s preferences. Remember to test the script thoroughly to ensure it behaves as expected in different scenarios.

It’s important to note that while this method is effective, it may not be suitable for all setups. Users should consider their specific desktop environment and any potential conflicts with other input devices or settings.

Scripting Touchpad Disablement During Vim Sessions

To ensure an uninterrupted Vim experience, scripting the touchpad disablement can be a game-changer. Automating this process allows you to focus on your code without accidental touchpad interference. Here’s a simple script that can be used to toggle the touchpad state when entering and leaving Vim:

  1. Identify the touchpad device ID using xinput list.
  2. Create a script that uses xinput disable <id> when Vim starts.
  3. Similarly, enable the touchpad with xinput enable <id> upon exiting Vim.

This script can be bound to Vim’s autocommand events for a seamless operation. For instance, you can add the following to your .vimrc:

autocmd VimEnter * !xinput disable <id>
autocmd VimLeave * !xinput enable <id>

Remember to replace <id> with the actual device ID of your touchpad.

By integrating these commands into your workflow, the touchpad will automatically be disabled when you’re in the zone and re-enabled when you’re done, ensuring a smooth scrolling experience without distractions.

Restoring Touchpad Functionality Post-Vim

After a productive Vim session, it’s essential to ensure that your touchpad is returned to its normal operating state. Restoring touchpad functionality is a straightforward process that can be automated as part of your Vim exit routine. Here’s a simple checklist to follow:

  • Verify that the touchpad is re-enabled using xinput or your system settings.
  • Check that all touchpad settings (e.g., sensitivity, button mapping) are reverted to their pre-Vim configuration.
  • Confirm that the touchpad responds to gestures and movements as expected.

It’s important to test the touchpad after exiting Vim to catch any issues that might have arisen during the session.

If you encounter a situation where the touchpad does not resume its normal function, refer to the troubleshooting section for guidance. Common issues, such as the touchpad not being recognized by the system, can often be resolved by checking the device status in your system settings or by consulting system logs for errors.

Advanced Touchpad Settings and Tweaks

Adjusting Touchpad Sensitivity and Pressure Thresholds

Fine-tuning touchpad sensitivity and pressure thresholds is essential for a comfortable user experience. Adjusting these settings can significantly enhance the precision and responsiveness of your touchpad. To modify these parameters, you can create temporary local device quirks or manipulate configuration files directly.

For instance, to change the touchpad sensitivity, you might alter the libinput_discrete_deltay_multiplier value. This can be done by echoing a new value into a temporary file, as shown below:

$ echo 6 > /tmp/libinput_discrete_deltay_multiplier

Remember, the optimal settings vary depending on your hardware and personal preferences. Experiment with different values to find the sweet spot.

Custom pressure settings can be managed through .quirk files. However, be aware that quirks are considered an internal API and may not be supported in future libinput versions. Always back up your original configuration before making changes.

Remapping Touchpad Buttons for Enhanced Productivity

Remapping touchpad buttons can significantly enhance your productivity, especially when combined with tools like Vim. Boldly redefine your touchpad’s functionality to suit your workflow needs. For instance, you can swap the default two- and three-finger tap actions to better align with your usage patterns. By editing the TappingButtonMap option in the Xorg configuration file, you can customize the tap actions to your preference.

To set 1/2/3-finger taps to left/right/middle, simply set TappingButtonMap to lrm. For left/middle/right, use lmr instead.

Manual button remapping allows for even more personalized configurations. Using xinput get-button-map, you can query the current button mapping and adjust it as needed. This is particularly useful for devices like trackballs or mice with additional buttons. Below is an example of how to remap buttons for a device:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "touchpad"
    Driver "libinput"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"

Remember to tailor the Identifier and remove MatchIsTouchpad "on" if your device is not a touchpad.

Using Quirks and Local Device Tweaks

When customizing touchpad behavior, quirks and local device tweaks can be a powerful way to refine user experience. These adjustments often involve editing configuration files or using command-line tools to set specific parameters.

For instance, users can create custom gestures by modifying the ~/.config/fusuma/config.yml file for tools like Fusuma or Gebaar. This allows for the definition of actions such as three-finger swipes to navigate between virtual desktops or to adjust volume levels. Here’s an example of how to map gestures to specific commands:

      command: 'xdotool key alt+Left'
      command: 'xdotool key alt+Right'

Adjusting the threshold and interval settings can significantly improve the responsiveness and accuracy of touchpad gestures, preventing unintended actions.

It’s important to note that changes made to local configuration files or through xinput commands may require restarting the X server to take effect. Always ensure that your tweaks are compatible with your device and do not conflict with other system settings.

Troubleshooting Common Touchpad Issues

Diagnosing Touchpad Problems with libinput-debug-events

When touchpad issues arise, the libinput debug-events command is an invaluable tool for diagnosis. Running this command provides real-time feedback on the touchpad’s events, which can help pinpoint the source of the problem. It’s essential to interpret the output correctly to understand whether the touchpad is sending events as expected.

To ensure kernel support for your input devices, the evemu-describe tool can be used. This utility will display the capabilities of your touchpad, comparing it to known supported devices. For instance, a functioning touchpad should list several ABS_ and ABS_MT axes, and for clickpads, the INPUT_PROP_BUTTONPAD property if supported.

Remember, not all touchpad problems are due to hardware or driver issues. Configuration conflicts or improper settings can also lead to erratic behavior. Checking the xorg.conf file for any misconfigurations or using alternative drivers like Synaptics in place of libinput may resolve these issues.

Resolving GNOME and KDE Touchpad Configuration Conflicts

When using GNOME or KDE, touchpad settings can sometimes conflict with system-wide configurations. GNOME may override certain behaviors, such as disabling Tapping or enforcing Natural Scrolling. To resolve these conflicts, use the gsettings command line tool or a graphical frontend to adjust the touchpad settings for your user. For instance, to enable Tapping and disable Natural Scrolling, you might execute:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad tap-to-click true
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad natural-scroll false

KDE users may encounter issues like inertial scrolling not functioning. This is due to certain features not being implemented, as indicated by KDE bug reports. A temporary workaround for Chromium-based browsers is to install extensions like SmoothScroll.

It’s essential to ensure that touchpad events are properly sent to the GNOME desktop. This can be verified with the command: $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad send-events enabled.

For persistent configurations, consider creating or editing the xorg.conf.d files. An example configuration in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/30-touchpad.conf would look like this:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "touchpad"
    Driver "libinput"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"

Remember to tailor these settings to your specific hardware and preferences.

Ensuring Compatibility with Kernel and Hardware

Ensuring that your touchpad works seamlessly with your system’s kernel and hardware is crucial for a frustration-free experience. Boldly speaking, compatibility is key. To verify compatibility, you can use the evemu-describe tool from the evemu package to compare your touchpad’s output against a supported device. This comparison should reveal whether all necessary axes and properties are set correctly.

When troubleshooting, it’s important to check that the touchpad events are being correctly interpreted by your desktop environment. For GNOME users, this means ensuring that touchpad events are sent to the GNOME desktop. If you’re using multiple input drivers, such as libinput and synaptics, be aware that the default configuration may give precedence to synaptics. To prioritize libinput, you can adjust the configuration files within /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/.

Remember, the goal is to achieve a touchpad setup that is both responsive and reliable across all applications, including Vim.

Lastly, consider the following common options for configuring your input device, which can be set in the libinput section of your Xorg configuration files:

  • MatchIsPointer "on" (trackpoint)
  • MatchIsKeyboard "on"
  • MatchIsTouchpad "on"
  • MatchIsTouchscreen "on"

Integrating Touchpad Enhancements with System Settings

Overriding GNOME’s Default Touchpad Behaviors

GNOME Shell often comes with predefined touchpad settings that may not align with every user’s preferences. To tailor the touchpad experience to your liking, you can use the gsettings command line tool to override these defaults. For instance, to enable Tapping and disable Natural Scrolling, you would execute the following commands in your terminal:

  • $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad tap-to-click true
  • $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad natural-scroll false

It’s important to note that these changes are user-specific and will only affect the current user’s session.

In some cases, GNOME may enforce settings like disabling Tapping or enforcing Natural Scrolling. To ensure your touchpad behaves as expected, you may need to frequently check and adjust these settings after system updates or changes in GNOME’s configuration. Remember, for persistent configurations across sessions, you might want to consider creating or editing the 30-touchpad.conf file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/.

Setting Up Persistent Touchpad Configurations via Xorg Files

To ensure your touchpad settings remain consistent across reboots, you can create custom configuration files within the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ directory. A common practice is to name these files with a prefix that indicates their order of precedence, such as 30-touchpad.conf for touchpad configurations.

The basic structure of a touchpad configuration file includes an InputClass section with an identifier and the driver set to libinput. You can specify multiple sections within a single file, each tailored to a different input device. For touchpads, ensure you include MatchIsTouchpad "on" to apply the settings correctly.

When customizing your touchpad settings, it’s crucial to refer to the libinput manual page and the example configurations found in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf for guidance.

Here’s an example of what your 30-touchpad.conf might look like:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "touchpad"
    Driver "libinput"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"

Remember to adjust the Identifier and remove MatchIsTouchpad "on" if configuring a device that is not a touchpad. For more advanced customizations, such as button remapping, you can change the TappingButtonMap option to suit your preferences, like swapping two- and three-finger tap functions.

Leveraging Environment Variables for Touchpad Management

Environment variables offer a powerful way to manage touchpad settings on a system-wide level. By setting specific environment variables, users can control touchpad behavior dynamically, adapting to different contexts or user preferences. For instance, the LIBINPUT_IGNORE_DEVICE variable can be used to ignore a touchpad device entirely, which is useful for troubleshooting or when using external pointing devices.

To apply such changes, one might typically create a udev rule in /etc/udev/rules.d/, which sets the environment variable based on certain conditions. Below is an example of how to set this up:


Remember, environment variables are session-specific and will not persist across reboots unless they are placed in a startup script or a system configuration file.

For more permanent configurations, users can place custom settings in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/, with 30-touchpad.conf being a common choice for touchpad configurations. Here’s a simple structure for such a file:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "touchpad"
    Driver "libinput"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"

This approach ensures that touchpad settings are consistent and unaffected by temporary changes or user sessions.


In summary, the use of xinput and related tools like libinput provides a powerful way to customize touchpad behavior, especially when working with Vim or other applications where accidental touchpad interactions can be disruptive. By understanding and applying the configurations and commands discussed, users can enhance their productivity by ensuring that their touchpad responds precisely to their needs, whether it’s by disabling it temporarily while typing, adjusting sensitivity, or remapping buttons. It’s important to remember that while these tweaks can greatly improve the user experience, they may require a bit of trial and error to perfect. As with any system modification, it’s recommended to back up your configuration files before making changes. With the right setup, you can enjoy a seamless, distraction-free environment that complements your workflow.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I modify the touchpad scaling factor when Vim is focused?

You can modify the touchpad scaling factor by echoing a value to ‘/tmp/libinput_discrete_deltay_multiplier’. For example, use ‘$ echo 6 > /tmp/libinput_discrete_deltay_multiplier’ to change the scaling factor when Vim gains or loses focus.

How do I keep the touchpad enabled while typing?

To keep the touchpad enabled while typing, you can add ‘Option “DisableWhileTyping” “0”‘ to the ‘InputClass’ section of your ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/30-touchpad.conf’ file.

What command can I use to re-map touchpad buttons manually?

To re-map touchpad buttons manually, you can use the ‘xinput set-prop’ command. For example: ‘$ xinput set-prop 14 303 1 1’ or ‘$ xinput set-prop 14 “libinput Click Method Enabled” 1 1’.

How can I disable a device using an environment variable?

To disable a device using an environment variable, you can set ‘LIBINPUT_IGNORE_DEVICE’. This is typically done with a udev rule, such as creating ‘/etc/udev/rules.d/99-libinput-ignore.rules’.

How do I troubleshoot touchpad issues with libinput?

For troubleshooting touchpad issues, you can use ‘libinput debug-events’ to diagnose problems. Additionally, ensure your kernel supports the input device by using the ‘evemu-describe’ tool from the evemu package.

How do I change touchpad sensitivity and button mapping using Xorg configuration?

To change touchpad sensitivity and button mapping, you can edit the ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/30-touchpad.conf’ file. For button mapping, adjust the ‘Option “ButtonMapping”‘ line with the desired mapping sequence.

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