The Touchpad and Fingerprint Reader

With the Framework Laptop shipping just next month, we’re nearing the end of our series of deep dives of modules and features. So far, we’ve covered the 1080p webcam, the upgradeable mainboard, the great feeling keyboard, the high-speed storage Expansion Cards, the 3:2 display and bezels, the range of memory and storage options, the high-efficiency power adapter, and the DIY Edition. Today, we’re sharing more about the touchpad and fingerprint reader.

The quality and feel of the input devices makes or breaks a notebook. Touchpads are notoriously challenging to get right, so we put careful focus on making sure ours is great. We’ve built a custom 115mmx76.6mm touchpad module with a durable matte glass surface. We use a latest-generation Windows Precision Touchpad-compatible touch controller from PixArt, enabling low latency and high response rate along with palm rejection and multitouch gestures. PixArt has a long history in developing interesting interface devices, including the original IR sensor in the Wii Remote. Touchpad precision and accuracy is driven largely by the density of the capacitive electrodes, so we designed in a cell size of under 4mmx4mm, which is significantly denser than most notebooks.

Like all modules in the Framework Laptop, the touchpad is easy to replace if you ever need to. We also routed the keyboard and fingerprint reader signals through it, simplifying the system to have a single cable that connects all of the input devices to the mainboard to make upgrades and repairs easy.

To make device security convenient, we also built a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader into the power button, letting you log in with a touch. This uses a brand new capacitive sensor from Goodix with match-on-chip support to decouple fingerprint data from the host. Like the touchpad, the power button has a glass cover for durability. If you’re a Linux user, we’ve got you covered too! Our firmware lead Kieran submitted a patch to libfprint, and support is making its way into various distributions to be able to work automatically. We’ll provide manual instructions to get the fingerprint reader set up in Linux in the meantime.

There are a couple of additional deep dives we’ll share before we start shipping, and we have a lot of exciting content planned for the next year as you start using your Framework Laptop!

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Class act submitting the patch upstream for the linux drivers. The word is still out on whether or not Microsoft is going to hold the line on their ridiculous Windows 11 requirements (my guess is they wont), but by ensuring Linux runs flawlessly on the laptop means that it ultimately doesn’t matter. (Not that Windows 11 requirements are a problem for the Framework Laptop, because they absolutely aren’t.)

I find the arbitrary line in the sand that Microsoft drew with Windows 11 is terrible. There were computer that you could have bought yesterday that are not able to upgrade to Windows 11. I know the move is meant to spur new computer sales, but it is also regulating a ton of computers that are MORE than capable of really running Windows 11 to the junk heap.

The real problem? Linux isn’t ready to step into the light on desktop. There is zero unity there, and nothing is guaranteed.

However, really glad to see the effort Framework has been making! Can’t wait for them to ship!

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Any word on if the fingerprint reader supports caching the read from boot/resume to Windows logon? It’s a nice little QOL feature.

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Coming from a macbook… I’m verrrrry curious how this trackpad feels. All windows trackpads I’ve used have been subpar in comparison.

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@Colton_Idle I’m also coming from a macbook. I got fed up with apple and their antics making an effort to make their hardware intentionally hard to repair. They really aren’t ever trying to push any new boundaries with their new products lately either. Got tired of it and ordered this laptop. I hope it lives up to their word.

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I personally disagree, I’ve switched many people over to linux (mostly Mint since they were coming from Windows) and every one of them has loved it and not switched back. The biggest hurdle for most of the people I know is anticheat support in WINE/proton, which is slowly getting there. But overall I’d say Linux is more than ready to step into the spotlight on the desktop.

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I’d argue the M1 hardware is pretty innovative… my biggest issue with the M1 macs is the fact that EVERYTHING IS SOLDERED even the freaking SSD… who does that? Well apple apparently…

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Pretty innovative I’d agree just hard to justify it when its one step forward 2 steps back.

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100% agree here, I would love to see an ARM mainboard in a framework style laptop in the future, so we’ll see if/when that happens.

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To be clear, I don’t like soldered on components, but they expose an interesting trend with modern electronics that further complicates the repairability issue. Many innovations which contribute to making the M1 chip so fast are directly in opposition to the repairability of the system. You can see things like the unified memory stacking the RAM right onto the SOC directly improving system latency, while making the system way more difficult to repair (and forget about upgrading). You can even see this in Framework’s responses here on battery life, where they allude to the fact that using socketed DDR4 sodimm slots means a real-world impact to battery life, compared to soldered LPDDR4X.

Obviously I’m in the camp of “more sockets more better” since I’m enthusiastic about this laptop, but I do find it valuable to expose some of the benefits of going in the soldered components direction. There are reasons beyond the simple black and white of being pro or anti-consumer.

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Given all the issues there can be with Trackpads, and the frequency with which many user’s will expect to do Gaming on the machine, it would be especially nice to be able to get an option with REAL buttons and not just a trackpad. I basically don’t buy laptops that don’t have real buttons.

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Does anyone know if the touchpad ‘clicks’ if you press on it, or does it only support tap to click?

Assuming it does physically click, can tap to click be disabled? (I assume yes to this part because of the mention of windows precision drivers)

The touchpad has a piano hinge. So yes it can physically click, but only across the bottom 3/4 of the surface with a bit more force needed the higher up the touchpad you press.

In Linux tap to click can be turned off, I assume the same in Windows.

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Dammit, that’s a deal-breaker for me :frowning: I’m so used to Apple’s Force Touch touchpads (I’m even using one with my Linux workstation), that any hinged touchpad fills me with frustration.

Funny, I’m actually a little on the other side. Touchpads usually don’t bother me too much to use for general computing, but the force touch trackpad I’ve tried out on an M1 mac just whigs me out a little. It’s like the haptic feedback is just convincing enough that it draws my attention to it every time, that there’s a clicking feeling but no physical depression of the pad… I wouldn’t say the experience is a dealbreaker but it’s a small negative mark for me until either it gets even more convincing, or I get to the point I stop noticing it. For me tapping to click feels more natural on force feedback pads.

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Interesting, for me it’s totally convincing tactile-wise. I have HP c1030 chromebook in front of me and I don’t really see much tactile difference with Apple trackpad - travel of the tactile switch underneath is so short that it’s unnoticeable. But the fact that the click works only on the lower half drives me nuts.

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Not only this, I’m interested to see how the multi-touch gestures hold out. Those for me have made my experience using macbooks over the last decade very enjoyable. Obviously I know part of that is OS related, but the hardware can make or break it, as stated!

Now to find a distro I’ll enjoy… will probably end up dual booting it with win10 on the 1TB NVMe stick I ordered so I can reliably run my apps like GR2Analyst for storm chasing, and maybe some non-linux games too.

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From my experience with the framework, the glass trackpad feels great. Not sure how it would compare with a modern mac for long use, but the multitouch gestures are using windows precision drivers (so the standard Windows set), with the main driver for the experience being the big glass surface making it much nicer than my past laptops to use. Previously they were a gimmick for me, now I actually have been using them consistently

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I’d like to see RISC-V mainboard…

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@nrp I just noticed that my fingerprint sensor is kinda hinging outwards. Did you intend to have your power button do this or is this just an issue with my laptop?

EDIT: I’m assuming this is an issue, and if so, could I get an fprint sensor kit sent to me?

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