Three mouse buttons + track stick

Since I didn’t find any such topic in this forum yet, I guess this is not really an often requested feature? Nevertheless I might be wrong so I just wanted to bring it up here to see if there are maybe others who feel in a similar way about this issue.

Purism does lots of things right and does lots of things nobody else in the industry is doing right, which is great! There are just two things that so far kept me buying Lenovo Thinkpads in the past:

  • three physical mouse buttons
  • track stick

Virtual mouse buttons on a touchpad cannot replace physical mouse buttons for me. Without physical buttons, I have no tactile feedback about which button I’m about to press or whether I already pressed the button or not.

Without a track stick, I need to move my hands away from the home row of the keyboard. Since I’m operating nearly everything on my computer with my keyboard I am slowed down a lot if I’m forced to repeatedly move my hands away from the keyboard to the touchpad and then back to the keyboard.

I must admit, that for me personally, these two features still weigh more than all the benefits of purism laptops… :frowning:

Since I didn’t find any existing topic in the forums talking about three mouse buttons and track stick I guess this is a feature that has not yet been requested much in the past? But maybe this is something that others would appreciate as well? Or maybe the developers at purism could point out why this feature is hard to implement or whether there is a plan to add it or why it dosen’t make sense?


cheers, josch


I’m getting really fed up both with the lack of mouse buttons on my Librem laptop and with GNOME. I finally gave up trying to make GNOME perform well and installed LXDE, only to find, as I’d honestly expected, that LXDE isn’t even reasonably usable without hardware mouse buttons.

The lack of mouse buttons is aggravating enough, but you really don’t know what desktop interface your users are going to prefer. For a company that’s about freedom, it’d be nice if you offered the hardware support necessary for users to be free to do things such as choose their own desktop interface. There’s no good reason for not including, at the very least, two mouse buttons, a left and a right. Even for some games, it can be helpful to hold the left and right button at the same time, and with only one hardware button, this simply isn’t possible on Librem hardware.

I’d really love to stick with Purism for my computer needs, as I want to support a company that’s actually working to produce open hardware specifications. But it’s incredibly difficult to do that when I find the computer you Purism sold me to actively fight against me on a daily basis. Please consider building laptops with a left and right mouse button. I’d love a middle mouse button as well, though I can make due without one if need be. I’m not sure how much longer I can stand working on this one-button-mouse laptop. I’m probably going to end up replacing it and putting it in storage, which really makes me sad, especially as it’s the most-expensive laptop I’ve ever owned, and I’ve been using it for only a few months.

Honestly, I’d never even heard of a one-button laptop mouse until this laptop arrived in the mail, and had I realised there weren’t sufficient mouse buttons on this machine, I would never have bought it. As Josch mentions, having a track stick would also be very nice, though again, I could live without that if I just had a second mouse button.

What’s wrong with buying a mouse?

Also, in GNOME, have you tried using GNOME Tweaks to change the mouse click type to be “By Area”?
When doing so, clicking on the left side of the touchpad gives a left click, clicking on the right side of the touchpad gives a right click,and clicking both gives a middle click.

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I already have about three mice I’m not using, so I wouldn’t even need to buy one. Mice are a pain in the rear to use on the go though. And what’s even the point of a laptop if you aren’t using it on the go? You might as well get a desktop machine at that point. My Librem frequently gets really hot, so having a full desktop would be better if not on the go, as there’d be more air between components and there’d be bigger fans, both of which would help keep the machine cool.

I just tried the GNOME Tweaks thing you mentioned, and it doesn’t allow both left and right virtual mouse button to be used at once. It seems like whichever area of the touchpad is touched first is the only one that takes effect. You say that touching both gives a middle click, which doesn’t seem to actually be the case, but regardless, the default settings makes a three-finger tap into a middle click, so the middle click is kind of available, but not really because you can’t combine it with other click types and you can’t choose your own desktop. Using multiple mouse buttons at once isn’t possible on Librem hardware. Speaking of not being able to choose your own desktop, I’ve been getting fed up with GNOME anyway, as stated, meaning that GNOME Tweaks doesn’t really help. I’m stuck using a desktop I’ve hated for years because the Librem one-button mouse doesn’t work on lightweight desktops that aren’t expecting asinine, one-button mice.

There seems to be an inverse correlation when it comes to desktops. The ones that support “fancy” hardware that thinks removing key hardware features and emulating them in software are the same ones that force other unwanted features on users, even when thousands of users complain about the same feature, and refuse to provide a way to turn those features off. So I can have a desktop that allows me to performs tasks reasonably, or I can have one that supports asinine one-button mice. It doesn’t seem that having one that does both is an option.

Sorry, I pretty much never use middle-click, so I misremembered. If you click the middle of the very bottom edge of the touchpad, you will get a middle click.

However, I recognize this is not as smooth as you are looking for.

Have you tried KDE? I’m not experienced with it, but it tends to be known for letting users customize just about everything.

usualy it’s three finger tap which gives middle, two fingers right and one finger tap left. Maybe I’m carrying settings from laptop to laptop (don’t remember exactly) but that’s what I’m using for ages.

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You can change the behavior (at least in GNOME) with the GNOME Tweaks program. I hate the finger tap style, which I think is default, so I change mine to be responsive to area - clicking on the left side is a left click, clicking the right side is a right click, and then clicking the bottom middle is a middle click.

before multitouch touchpads went into wild I’ve used this zoning and it was always a pain as I’m not that good at blind positioning, always need to look down which is waste of time. good thing indeed anyone can set it to personal preferences. I was usually tuning right in xorg pointer sections.


It’s not a matter of smoothness. I’ve made two points here. First, I can’t use multiple mouse buttons at once on Librem hardware. I can’t left click and right click at the same time, for example. there is no way, rough or smooth, to accomplish this. Second, I can’t choose my own desktop because the desktops that emulate missing mouse buttons are the same ones that force unwanted features on me with no way to turn them off. And yes, I’ve tried KDE. I’m not a fan. As for GNOME Tweaks, it doesn’t help with either issue. Multiple mouse buttons still cannot be used simultaneously, nor does it provide a way to switch away from obnoxious desktops such as GNOME.


Yeah, that’s the default setup on GNOME. The number of fingers determines which one mouse button gets used, with no way to use multiple mouse buttons. I agree, blind positioning is a pain. On an unrelated note, the finger count thing is also a pain because the Librem often misreads the number of fingers I used, and provides the wrong type of click.

I understand some of your frustration, but can you educate me on where clicking both mouse buttons simultaneously does something?

Even with my hardware mice, clicking both buttons at once doesn’t register anything special - only of the clicks does anything. Do you have macros or shortcuts bound to simultaneous clicks?

The simultaneous clicks are useful in games, where left and right click do different things. It allows you to perform both tasks.

I’d be happy jut to be able to use a reasonable desktop such as LXDE though, which requires actual hardware buttons, as it doesn’t do any goofy button emulation and expects the actual hardware to be present.

pfff, for games you need to use right gear. otherwise just… don’t play games please :wink:

The right gear would be any laptop I’ve ever owned aside from this obnoxious Librem laptop. I’ve never had problems gaming until this machine.

Also, gaming isn’t even the biggest issue. As mentioned, I’d be happy just to get back to a less-terrible desktop interface, but that requires actual hardware buttons as well.

by right gear I rather meant high-resolution mouse with low latency and many buttons (that is - not touch pad/track stick). But yes, any laptop more or less.
So what’s the problem with laptop and number of mouse buttons? Mouse is input device which is handled by evdev/xinput2 subsys. If you want to emulate some mouse combos on touchpad you either need to deal with touchpad driver or with xinput in general

[ruff@trx ~]$ xinput list-props 'ETPS/2 Elantech Touchpad'
Device 'ETPS/2 Elantech Touchpad':
	Device Enabled (163):	1
	Coordinate Transformation Matrix (165):	1.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 1.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 1.000000
	Device Accel Profile (294):	1
	Device Accel Constant Deceleration (295):	2.500000
	Device Accel Adaptive Deceleration (296):	1.000000
	Device Accel Velocity Scaling (297):	12.500000
	Synaptics Edges (304):	118, 2842, 79, 1401
	Synaptics Finger (305):	1, 1, 0
	Synaptics Tap Time (306):	180
	Synaptics Tap Move (307):	145
	Synaptics Tap Durations (308):	180, 180, 100
	Synaptics ClickPad (309):	1
	Synaptics Middle Button Timeout (310):	0
	Synaptics Two-Finger Pressure (311):	282
	Synaptics Two-Finger Width (312):	7
	Synaptics Scrolling Distance (313):	66, 66
	Synaptics Edge Scrolling (314):	0, 0, 0
	Synaptics Two-Finger Scrolling (315):	1, 0
	Synaptics Move Speed (316):	1.000000, 1.750000, 0.060441, 0.000000
	Synaptics Off (317):	0
	Synaptics Locked Drags (318):	0
	Synaptics Locked Drags Timeout (319):	5000
	Synaptics Tap Action (320):	0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 3
	Synaptics Click Action (321):	1, 3, 2
	Synaptics Circular Scrolling (322):	0
	Synaptics Circular Scrolling Distance (323):	0.100000
	Synaptics Circular Scrolling Trigger (324):	0
	Synaptics Circular Pad (325):	0
	Synaptics Palm Detection (326):	1
	Synaptics Palm Dimensions (327):	10, 200
	Synaptics Coasting Speed (328):	20.000000, 50.000000
	Synaptics Pressure Motion (329):	30, 160
	Synaptics Pressure Motion Factor (330):	1.000000, 1.000000
	Synaptics Grab Event Device (331):	0
	Synaptics Gestures (332):	1
	Synaptics Capabilities (333):	1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1
	Synaptics Pad Resolution (334):	32, 33
	Synaptics Area (335):	0, 0, 0, 0
	Synaptics Soft Button Areas (336):	1480, 0, 1213, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
	Synaptics Noise Cancellation (337):	16, 16
	Device Product ID (287):	2, 14
	Device Node (286):	"/dev/input/event3"
[ruff@trx ~]$

An external mouse on a laptop, as mentioned before, is counterproductive. If on the go, a mouse a pain in the rear to use. If stuck in one place, such as at a desk, a desktop machine provides better cooling, and should be used in place of a laptop. I’ve also found first-person controls to be clunky on mice, anyway. A track stick has always worked best for me, though a touchpad works almost as well. Still need mouse buttons though.

Besides, combinations aren’t the biggest problem, as I’ve repeatedly said. Having even a left click without simultaneous right click is necessary just for basic desktop usage, and not all desktops emulate mouse buttons that shouldn’t be missing in the first place. I’m so fed up with GNOME/KDE/Xfce, and I can’t switch to something simpler, that doesn’t force obnoxious features on the user with no way to turn them off, because such simpler desktops don’t emulate missing mouse buttons. Without basic mouse buttons, getting any work done whatsoever requires me to be stuck on a desktop that has driven me bonkers for years. There’s a reason I haven’t used GNOME since near when I first started using Linux. GNOME isn’t for everyone. This shortage of mouse buttons on the Librems *severely constricts* the range of desktops that actually function.

why do you keep repeating ‘on librem’ as if they put a hardware constrain into laptop not allowing you to emulate needed mouse buttons/gestures?
Gear remark was about games, you do not play games on the go do you? And even if you do it will be the game with one mouse button.
So far what I understood from your comments:

  • You need more complex mouse virtual button emulation than the standard (pre-configured) one
  • you cannot set it up manually (via xinput/xorg) so you rely on complex desktop environments to do it for you
  • you’d prefer not to use complex DE and rather use something lighter
  • You blame Librem in all things you cannot achieve.

Did I miss anything?

Yes, you missed something big. You’re focusing on emulating missing buttons. I keep saying that as long as buttons are missing and therefore in need of emulation, I’m stuck in an environment that provides such emulation. The hardware constraint that has been put on the Librems is that you only get to use one mouse button, so you have to make that one mouse button function as if it were two or three mouse buttons. I can’t use LXDE, for example, because it doesn’t emulate missing mouse buttons. I don’t need complex virtual mouse button emulation. What I need is actual, hardware mouse buttons for use in an environment that expect actual, hardware mouse buttons to be present.

Not everyone wants one of the heavy-handed desktops such as GNOME. Sure, GNOME can handle bizarre hardware such as this, but it comes at the cost of forcing bizarre behaviour on the user. There are a multitude of features in GNOME that frequently get complaints from thousands of people, who just want a way to turn them off. People even send in pull requests to add configuration options to disable such features. These pull requests get declined because the GNOME team thinks that their way is the one and only right way to do things, even if it pisses off the user, or doesn’t go well with the user’s workflow. The GNOME team deosn’t even need to solve the problem of how to make these things configurable. Users are doing that for them and sending in the code, but they don’t want such features to be turned off by anyone. And it’s not just GNOME doing that. Xfce does it too, and while I’m not overly familiar with KDE Plasma development, it wouldn’t surprise me if the KDE developers had a similar mentality. Choosing a desktop that works well for your personal workflow is pretty important, especially given that the teams working on the complex desktops tend to disregard what users need and want and try to force their one-true-use-case setups.

Yes, I game on the go. And the games I play make use of all three mouse buttons, though I could make do without the middle one. Gaming isn’t the main problem, but I brought it up as another reason emulation doesn’t get the job done. I guess that’s irrelevant though, as the fact that emulation isn’t always available makes problems with the emulation, such as an inability to press multiple virtual mouse buttons at once, a moot point. With only one hardware mouse button, I have no right click. At all. I have no middle click. At all. That is, unless I use a desktop that drives me up the wall in a few months, such as GNOME, Xfce, or KDE.

Complex desktop environments aren’t doing anything for me, besides getting on my last nerve. I’m not relying on them for anything, but rather, I’m stuck on them because this laptop is missing a hardware left and right mouse button split.

I don’t blame the Librem for “all things I cannot achieve”. I blame the Librem for not having a left and right mouse button, when every other laptop I’ve ever owned in my entire life has had a left and right mouse button, as these are pretty vital buttons to have. I’ve had laptops without a middle mouse button, but I’ve never come across a laptop so foolishly made that it didn’t have a left and right hardware mouse button. Since running into problems on this laptop, I’ve done research and found that some other laptops suffer from the same shortcoming, so you don’t need to tell me the Librems aren’t the only ones. But I’ve never seen such machines in person, and as far as I can tell, they’re not that common. Most manufacturers have the sense to include the two most important mouse buttons, even if they don’t include the third. Where the Librem goes wrong is that it assumes every user is going to want to use GNOME, which provides emulation for the missing buttons. But even assuming users want to stick with GNOME, having hardware mouse buttons on GNOME can be very helpful. Similar to how Apple removed the headphone jack to to make their iPhones thinner, which was something no one was asking for, it seems like Purism chose not to include mouse buttons to make their laptops look nicer at the cost of a loss in functionality. Not exactly a great idea, if you ask me.

My guess is that the hardware I’m on now is a lost cause. I’ll need to replace it, and probably pretty soon. I have no delusions that a trackpad-with-buttons combo will be produced that can be swapped in to replace the current trackpad-with-one-button-under-it component. My hope though is that Purism will provide options on their future machines; variants with hardware mouse buttons. (A track stick option would be much appreciated as well, though I’d settle for just the mouse buttons.)

Ok, but I haven’t seen laptop with hw mouse buttons for already like… 15 years perhaps? So why all of a sudden such a backlash?

For the record - I’m using i3 - which is probably the lightest DE i’ve ever seen, exactly because I consider all modern DEs to be a bloatware (lxde including).

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Like I said, this is the first laptop I’ve ever seen that’s missing the hardware mouse buttons. So that would be why I comment now. I’ve seen plenty of laptops in the past fifteen years, and they’ve all had at least two mouse buttons. Maybe it’s a market area thing. I don’t know. But the machines you’ve seen during this time period and the machines I’ve seen during this time period clearly aren’t the same machines. If I’d even considered the possibility that a laptop might not have mouse buttons, I wouldn’t have bought this one without taking a closer look at the photo, and being unable to see *any* mouse buttons (as the only mouse button is hidden under the touchpad where I wouldn’t have seen it), I would have gotten a laptop from elsewhere.

As for backlash, your comment to just “not play games” was incredibly rude, which is why my tone got more serious and I suppose more aggressive. There’s no reason one should need a dedicated machine for casual gaming, and this one’s causing me issues. Not that the issues are limited to gaming, but if I got a laptop more suitable for gaming, there’d be no reason not to do my non-gaming on that same machine, which would make the Librem redundant.

Until that comment though, I was just trying to put in a suggestion, hoping that future Librem machines might be available that would meet my needs. I really like the idea of having a machine with a free software bios, and I love the idea of my money going toward a company that’s working to produce open hardware specifications. But if the hardware isn’t functional, it isn’t functional, and my money has to go elsewhere so I can get a machine that’ll actually let me get my work and play done.

EDIT: Come to think of it, if no-button or one-button mice were the norm, why would there still be common desktop interfaces such as LXDE that don’t support them? I get that LXDE isn’t the most-common one in use, but I’d say it’s probably in the top four, if you don’t count forks as separate interfaces. It seems to me like having mouse buttons on your laptop is the more-common setup as I’d thought it was.

I didn’t say and mean that, what I meant was rather - to play games you need some more serious input device than touchpad (even with hw buttons).
I do play from time to time homm3 on my linux with touchpad but that’s always a pain, not due to buttons (that i handle fairly well with multi-finger emulation) but actual movement/positioning.