Subpar touchpad

Having run Windows/Linux on old Macbooks (2013 era), I can only offer that this is more likely than not a driver issue rather than a touchpad issue. The same input device on the same machine was nearly unusable for this exact reason (spurious presses, pixel-by-pixel drift and jitter) in Linux.

Somewhat along the same lines, I find that the Framework’s touchpad under Windows doesn’t produce any of those issues (for me.)

I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the FL touchpad. The touchpad in the 2017 Pixelbook is by far the best of any laptop I have owned or tried, and the difference between the FL is massive.

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Strange assumptions. I’ve only ever used ThinkPads (nobody even uses the touchpad), Macbooks, and now the Framework, so no, I did not presume to know anything about other laptops, but I do know about user experience.

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The irony of this post is that the compliant is completely and utterly lodged at the Linux distro you are using, and is outside of Framework’s control.

Have you tried Windows 10? The trackpad is glorious. Super precise and gestures all work flawlessly. Microsoft actually invested a lot of time in creating trackpad drivers that are pretty great.

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Weirdly, on an X13 gen 2 with an enormous touchpad, I instinctively use the touchpad much more often than with past models where I almost exclusively used the TrackPoint (some of my ThinkPads don’t even have touchpads; on the rest, it’s much smaller). That’s despite it being the same kind of (imo) annoying hinged touchpad like the Framework’s apparently is! If I weren’t worried about the warranty I’d open it up and look for a way to disable the hinge entirely – which one could do with the Framework, perhaps.

If we ever get TrackPoint support on the Framework, I imagine I’d actually prefer one with a much smaller touchpad (which would maybe leave room room for another row of keys!), instead of one taking up practically half the vertical space on the input cover…

I made a similar point in the relevant blog post’s thread. Hinged touchpads are not the only option on the market; perhaps other types of touchpad were considered too expensive, but I hope they’ll be an option in the future. (I haven’t had time to research the hardware/documentation issues mentioned below – that all input is routed through the touchpad though an unspecified “single cable system” – and didn’t receive any responses about it, so I don’t know how feasible DIY experimentation would be.)

I had an initially bad experience with the touchpad on Pop Linux and eventually switched off “Tap to Click” and “Disable while Typing.” I can’t say it’s perfect now, but I no longer have crippling “random clicks” taking focus away or otherwise messing up my typing.

EDIT: Just to follow up with this–I installed the latest libinput10 driver (a user land driver used by X11) and things are subjectively feeling much better right now. I’ve switched “Tap to Click” back on, and it feels more consistent.

I upgraded from libinput10-1.18.1 to libinput10-1.19.2-1:

wget http://ftp.br.debian.org/debian/pool/main/libi/libinput/libinput-bin_1.19.2-1_amd64.deb && dpkg -i libinput-bin_1.19.2-1_amd64.deb
wget http://ftp.br.debian.org/debian/pool/main/libi/libinput/libinput10_1.19.2-1_amd64.deb && dpkg -i libinput10_1.19.2-1_amd64.deb

EDIT2: Welp, it isn’t perfect. Still seeing random pointer jumps and clicks.

EDIT3: I discovered the issue! I had a key remapper that was neutering libinput’s “disable while typing” feature for touchpads.

The Framework touchpad is perfectly fine in my opinion. I usually use a Bluetooth mouse for anything but light and short internet surfing. It did not click for me, but after clicking it a bunch of times, it randomly started working for me. It has been fine ever since. The sensitivity needed adjusted in my fedora install as well. But after those tweaks, it has been a perfectly fine trackpad. Better than my old msi or my wife’s hp envy, and I would say on par with my XPS.

I have never used a Mac trackpad, but everything that was complained about, sounds like software issues or normal business to me. Try playing with the sensitivity settings to see if that helps some. But physical click on the top corners is not normal for a non-Mac, that isn’t specific to Framework, nor their fault.

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If you’re on Linux, I recently discovered this effort to crowdsource better touchpad drivers and gesture support throughout the entire stack (X and Wayland both):

I wish I could do more than $10/mo, but that’s where I’m at for now!

Read more about their latest progress update here:

https://bill.harding.blog/2021/06/06/linux-touchpad-like-macbook-update-touchpad-gestures-land-to-qt-gimp-and-x-server/

Edit to add: Bill’s inaugural “Linux Touchpad like a MacBook” post was in 2018, asking if it was a problem worth working on, and the overwhelming response was “YES”.

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I’ve started exploring touchpad events at a low level, with an eye towards improving the quality of the Linux touchpad experience. This is a project I wrote over Thanksgiving to help me visualize what the kernel is communicating directly:

On my touchpad, I’m getting only x/y coordinates for each finger (no pressure, nor elliptical touch information):

I’m curious if this is because of the kernel driver that information is not present, or if it’s just not supported by the hardware.

I would have to assume that more information (like pressure and elliptical orientation) would bring more a higher fidelity experience with it.

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Love framework love the company love what they’re doing but the touchpad is not great.

I’d be curious to hear your experience. How do you come to the conclusion that the hardware is not great?

I ask because the research I’ve been doing lately using data directly from the Linux kernel seems to indicate that actually, the accuracy and resolution of the PixArt PCT3854QR touchpad are very high. There’s a possibility that palm detection is not great coming from the firmware–I’m still investigating. [Update: it turns out that a key remapper I had opted to use was neutring libinput’s “disable while typing” for touchpads!]

However, other “annoyances” I’ve had with the touchpad experience in Linux are happening higher up in the software stack. For example, two-finger scrolling is ALWAYS happening correctly from the data coming from the kernel, but occasionally X11 decides not to scroll for some reason. I suspect the heuristic regarding “two fingers in the same direction, while not intending to click” is subpar.

I’m curious about whether this is happening at the libinput level, or perhaps another part of the X11 / Wayland stack.

Here are some notes I’ve been taking on the “touchpad” stack in Linux:

How do Touchpad events go from physical movements to app events?

  1. Finger movements affect capacitive touch circuitry
  2. Firmware for PixArt PCT3854QR
    Yet to be open sourced by Framework?
  3. Kernel hid driver
    https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/drivers/hid/hid-core.c
  4. Kernel hid-multitouch driver
    https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/drivers/hid/hid-multitouch.c
  5. Multitouch events sent to /dev/input/event8
    (use udev to find out which file corresponds to the touchpad, e.g.:
    $ udevadm info --export-db | grep -5 ID_INPUT_TOUCHPAD=1
    … e.g.
    DEVNAME=/dev/input/event8)
  6. mtdev - type A to slotted type B protocol conversion
    mtdev
  7. libinput - “common denominator” for all touchpads
  8. X/Wayland
  9. GTK/KDE etc.
  10. Gesture detection (Touchegg, libinput-gestures, fusuma, gebaar)
  11. Application responds to touch events (movement, clicks, gestures etc.)

If anyone else is interested in learning and / or hardware hacking with me so we can improve the Linux experience on Framework, please DM me or [edit:] join the https://linuxtouchpad.org effort.

Here’s a video of cleartouch looking at kernel multitouch data:

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I’ve been having troubles with the touchpad, too (Windows 11). I use an external mouse when I’m at my desk but I’ve been traveling this week and often using the touchpad while in beds or seats where a mouse would be awkward.

I had to disable three-point swipes because if I’m resting my (very small) hand on the edge of the computer it grazes the touchpad and registers as a finger touch, so I would try to scroll and my windows would go haywire.

I’m about to disable tap-to-click too because even though I’ve turned the sensitivity down as low as possible, I’m still getting accidental clicks all over the place when I’m just trying to move the mouse.

Is there any chance the latest set of drivers will help?

This is a problem I have had with almost every Windows laptop trackpad forever. Not just random clicks while trying to use the mouse (some do this horrible, some not so much), but also random clicks while typing, which often causes frustration. It’s the main reason I hate the trend towards huge trackpads these days. It just guarantees you will accidentally hit it while typing or whatever. Some are a bit better than others, and maybe there are some out there that would manage to just not cause issues for me. But I’ve never had one that was 100% problem free for me. And one was so sensitive that I ended up abandoning an otherwise fantastic laptop.

So far I haven’t had issues like you are describing on my Framework, but I’m using Linux, not Windows. Plus it’s not my “daily driver” at this point.

If you are okay taking a separate pointing device, consider a trackball. I almost always use a trackball mouse. Chairs, cramped desk, my thigh while standing at a piece of equipment, wherever, it just works. It can just sit or be held in place and I use the trackball rather than having to slide the whole mouse around. I’ve been using a cheap, wireless, Logitech trackball for years. The AA battery lasts for months and I’ve gotten so used to it that I almost never miss a traditional mouse.

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This is the worst I’ve had for clicking by accident while actually using the touchpad. I’ve had the issues while typing and such, too, but it seems like they’ve gotten better over time. My last two laptops were an XPS 15 and a Thinkpad W550s (both 2015 models) and neither of them gave me this much trouble.

Yeah, that can be super frustrating. Like I said, I literally got rid of a laptop due to an issue like that. I’d just be moving the cursor across a screen and it would randomly click or click-drag something and cause problems. Often it would close a window or program I was working on because I happened to drag the cursor past the “x”. Undo also became my best friend with that laptop whenever I was typing because there were so many times when I’d be typing and it would suddenly think I clicked a couple times and would therefore “select all.” And since I was still typing, it was all gone in a flash, replaced with the last few letters I typed.

Hopefully it’s just a driver issue and can get sorted out.

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I have a T15 for work, I use the touchpad as much as I use the cursor. Never got into trackpoints.

I strongly suspect it’s mostly software issues that make it seem subpar.
For what it’s worth, under linux I’ve found the synaptics driver behavior is still far superior to libinput, even though configuration is relatively stone-aged.

On mint and probably ubuntu-likes:

apt install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics
cd /etc/X11; mkdir xorg.conf.d
cp -a /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/70-*syn* xorg.conf.d/

…that file you then have to edit to add to Identifier "Default clickpad buttons" :

Option "SoftButtonAreas" "66% 0 82% 0 33% 66% 82% 0"

so that you have middle and right button along the bottom. Other fiddling is required if you want different config. The point though is that the feel is far superior. I’d be happy to be wrong as I hear libinput is where all the effort is focused, but I tried it and it felt like I was going back years.

This seems like a good place to ask how do I get the thing to sense clicks? All it seems to sense is taps? If I turn that off it doesn’t do anything. Also is there a spec or operating document in english?

I know this thread is ancient but I too find the touchpad to be awful. It’s so bad I can barely use it and have to use a mouse 100% of the time. it seems like it only registers right clicks. if I use two hands with left index finger on the bottom left I can sort of use it.