Librem 13v4 Touchpad Issues


First of all, I want to say that this is a wonderful laptop. And the idea behind what Purism is doing is quite solid and aligns with my beliefs as well. It has most of what I need. The keyboard is pretty great, black aluminum frame looks sleek (at least without fingerprints) and has a majority of shortcuts that you would need on a 13-inch machine. Runs cool, and runs the games and programs that I would like to use really great! I haven’t tried a VM on it yet, but I assume it would also run well. Best of all, it’s as freedom respecting as you can get with this level of hardware.

The layout of the buttons and I/O stuff is real great too, except for the fact that they now placed the kill switches on the side of the laptop instead of on the top above the keyboard, which is concerning because I would like to plop this laptop into a bag, and not have those fragile little switches break off by rubbing on to something. But I guess that means I’ll just have to invest in a 13-inch “throw case” to put my laptop in before I carry it in a bag. Otherwise, not too shabby of an issue.

Also the webcam is much lower quality than I expected. I at least tried it with a Firefox WebRTC Webpage, and it looked pretty awful. If I’m paying $1,400+ for a laptop, I would expect at least a 720p webcam. Just a real shame… Also you can’t take the back of the screen off, only the bottom portion for the laptop, so you can’t replace the webcam or screen. What’s the point of that? I thought this was supposed to be a fully open laptop?

But I am drifting on. I’m here to talk about the real issue I’m having… That’s with the trackpad.

So this laptop, and I assume the previous version, is using this Elantech trackpad with multi-touch and a feature called “click anywhere”, which sounds great in theory, but the engineering seems very poor and not tested very well.

For example, my family owns a MacBook, which is several years old, and the “click anywhere” trackpad is also defective and not working correctly, but they’ve had it for a few years. So are you telling me that this kind of hardware component, which I now find trashy and not quality tested correctly, only has a life of about 5 years maximum?

That really makes me worried when I want a laptop that lasts a long time, like about 10+ years. Why should I have to worry about this? Why can’t I just replace this trackpad with one that has physical buttons, like a good old fashioned Thinkpad? Why is the industry using these inferior products that are prone to be defective? I don’t understand it…

Also, why doesn’t Purism offer FRU components for sale? I think this laptop is great in almost every way, but I just really want to replace the freaking trackpad (and webcam). It’s so annoying. Now I have to ship it back as defective and have them fix it. Or disable it and use a mouse, which is just awful… Please do not buy this laptop if you really care about quality trackpads, because it seems like Purism doesn’t.

To finalize, I will describe the few issues I have with the trackpad. This may not necessarily apply to a Librem 15v4, because I do not have that. If you do, please let everyone know.

  1. The big issue is that sometimes when I click on the trackpad, it will physically stick down and become stuck in the LMB “press” position, and so when moving the cursor around, it just selects stuff, and I can’t LMB “release” it anymore. This is clearly a defective hardware issue.

  2. I’ve also seen problems where the mouse cursor stops moving around at random during normal usage. This is probably due to the fact that the connection was loose when I received the unit. Taking the back off, removing the battery, and re-seating the ribbon cable for the trackpad seemed to resolve it so far. Yet again, I’m not sure. For some strange reason, using libinput debug-events as root shows that libinput is detecting the mouse movements, but is not moving around on the screen for some reason. It could be a software or hardware issue, or mixed.

Lastly, I don’t see any way to apparently configure the lower right and lower-middle to all be left mouse button. Apparently, they are hard-coded to be right mouse button and middle mouse button, respectively. So having the hardware manufacturer decide how my “superior” trackpad should work out of the box without a way to configure it is a big no-no.

I’ll contact Purism after this when I have some time to get it fixed, but I’m not looking hopeful. I might ask for a refund.

Having a fully-functioning, reliable trackpad 100% of the time is super important to me on a laptop, and it’s a shame they didn’t deliver it to me with a good first impression.

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Since you have already opened your device, check that the screws holding the touchpad are properly tightened.

Not so far, you have found the cause of the problem and solved it. Evidently, there was an oversight with QC-ing your device’s touchpad.

Nothing to do with hardware, see here for options:


Hello, @mladen

I know you’re trying to claim that I’m in the wrong–that the customer is in the wrong–but I am not lying. This is not intended to be defamatory or intentionally ill will in any way.

I guess I will check the screws. Why does the tightness of the screws matter?

For some reason, the touchpad has started to fix itself over time… Huh? This is just really weird. I actually got through a night without the trackpad sticking down and not clicking. But how long is this gonna last?

The biggest points are that I’m paying $1,400 for a laptop, and I expect all the hardware to be flawless, and I expect some good customer support if I contact anyone and ask for an RMA. I’m still considering doing it.

I’ve calmed down a little bit though. But I don’t have a good temper when it comes to non-functioning hardware.

EDIT: Nevermind, the trackpad is broken again…

The name of your thread is Buyer Beware! with an exclamation point.

Glad to see that your touchpad is working better.

My v3 has been awesome. I admittedly hate actually clicking (that is depressing the surface) instead of tapping. 1 finger for left click, and 2 finger tap for right click. Kind of feel like this is the way this trackpad was designed, with the physical clicking as a hold over from previous trackpad designs.

Excuse me, when/where did I say you are lying?

Then please kindly consider changing the title of this topic.

I am not sure, but it does matter. We had a case like this, tightening the screws helped.

Perhaps it simply had some rough finish of the internal parts and a bit time was needed to get it in order.

Le customer support — c’est moi. I saw your email, but I was gonna reply with: “please open the back cover of your device and check if the touchpad holding the screws to the laptop frame are properly tightened”. The screws I am talking about are the 3 screws visible here, below the red “serial number tags” text:

There are more screws which can be accessed when you remove the battery, you can check those as well (but I am not sure if they have any effect to the issue you described). If this does not help, we will RMA your device.

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Hi everyone, @mladen,

I have tried what you have said, and I’m really pleased to say that it worked great. It seemed like there was too much space between the mechanisms in the touchpad components. I did tighten them, and now the actuation distance is much less, but it feels much better than before. It clicks fine without any issues of it getting stuck now; I’ve been using it for a few days, and so far the outstanding problem is gone.

I want to apologize about my attitude. I can’t apologize about anything else though, since QC should have really been a priority… I know that Purism is a start up company, and I should have kept my expectations more realistic. Hope that critics can forgive me, since I value criticism greatly.

If you feel any reason to lock or remove the thread, go ahead and do so. I’m happy right now with the new machine.


Since your attitude was the most offensive feature of anything you wrote, It’s definitely a great place to start. I also have my doubts about the last bit I quoted, but people so rarely apologize at all I won’t press the matter.

I am not sure if this is the right topic to post under but I have a 13v4 and other topics seemed very old. I guess I would say my issue is lag/responsiveness. It is most noticeable when scrolling: the scroll almost always overshoots.

There is something about the physical surface of the track pad. My previous laptop is a MacBook. I’m not sure if Apple simply has a patent on their excellent, perfectly responsive track pad or if the one on the Librem laptop needs some tuning.

On an Apple track pad my finger slides freely but on the Librem track pad I can feel it having a pattern of repeated stick-release. This definitely interferes with precise positioning of the cursor. Maybe you can treat the surface to make it more slippery?

(When I used a Dell Laptop I remember it also being less responsive than the MacBook.)

Is there a tuning guide for this track pad? I saw various suggestions for tuning on other posts but no summary of what was working.

I really like the laptop and, apart from it not having a caps lock light, this is THE thing that makes it inferior.

I don’t know as I think this is a very subjective thing, but I would say that I really like the trackpad on my 13v3. It might just be a getting used to thing for you.

I never really used touchpads before, as I found the trackpoint to be superior and much faster.

Have you already dug into settings and messed around with acceleration and mouse button emulation?

hi there! :slight_smile:

mayb some wide tape could make its surface fine while still not rendering unusable the touch capacity… my (sadly asus) notebook have a foil on its keyboard and touchpad to protect it, so i can only confirm that it works and it likes to get destroyed by the time, so some experimenting with it is required. (btw im doing this cuz the keyboard cant b disassembled, and a mysterious dirt almost made it half dead permanently, so now only the holy spirit keeps it alive, but its fine for a kinda long while :smiley: )

I have the same problem with my trackpad (15v4). Occasionally (actually often) the pad acts like the left button is stuck down (no longer clicks). I noticed that lightly, squeezing the corners of the laptop or a light twist on the case free’s it - for awhile.
I opened the case, removed the battery and tweaked the trackpad screws. They felt tight enough.
Even clicking it with the case open it would still have this problem. If I pinched the edge of the trackpad with my finger (trackpad frame and top) it seems stable. Its as if it lacks support between the bottom of the trackpad and the battery. Too much flex in the case. Maybe a wider frame holding the trackpad in place might stabilize it. I’m at a loss as to anything I can do to improve it. Hopefully Purism or someone here can suggest something. Seems like it needs a stiffer/wider frame to stop flexing.

FOLLOW-UP (4/9/2019) I didn’t tighten up on the bottom case cover screws a bit more and it did help.

I also have a 15v4, and had the exact same issue that you do (or did).

I loosened the four screws holding the track pad click bar in place to the point where the bar has the smallest amount of wiggle/play to it. I left the top screws (under the battery) tightened as they were upon arrival. I tightened all of the casing screws consistently. This resolved the issue completely for me. Short version is that the click bar screws were too tight.

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Had the same issue but no need to open the case - I just tightened the screws on the outside and it worked.

I was just troubleshooting this issue myself, and I have something to add. Instead of loosening the four screws pictured, I recommend taking the bar off entirely and looking at the part that pushes on the small switch that triggers the click.

There is a dome or bulge that pushes on the switch, and the manufacturer has used little sticky shims to tune when the click is triggered. If your laptop registers a click too easily, perhaps with flexing of the chassis, just take off one or more of the shims. If you need to, you could file a little bit off of the bulge to make it shorter. If it is too hard to click, add tape or similar to make the bulge taller. This will allow you to have this bar screwed down tightly (increasing the stiffness of the whole assembly and preventing further loosening), as well as solving your (non-software) click problems.

Having the back cover screws torqued down properly is important for the stiffness of the whole chassis, and stiffness affects how likely errant clicks are to happen, so you should make sure back cover screws are in tight too.