Touchpad buttons for enhanced security and ease of use

This is mainly intended as a design suggestion for the next Librem spin, but feel free to chime in. It’s probably going to be one of those things that “most” people want, which will then induce either a feature deployment bifurcation or a vote one way or the other. That’s fine. I just think this is worth the consideration.

I know it sounds crazy to say that having actual buttons at the bottom of the touchpad, as opposed to “touch regions” mimicking mouse buttons, could actually enhance security, but in my experience, they do just that.

The problem is that it’s much easier to fire off an unintended click – especially a middle-click resulting in a compromising paste action – when deprived of actual buttons. In theory, all of this can be disabled by UI and/or browser tweaks. In reality, the best I’ve been able to muster is turning off finger gestures (what could possibly go wrong?) and tap-to-click (hair-trigger disaster at your fingertips).

I’m speaking of Linux distros in general, not PureOS in particular.

I also find that buttons make things tidier, in that you know where things begin and end. None of this “smartypants” nonsense about figuring out what I’m really trying to do. The logic is too dumb to adjust to each of our personal neurological quirks. Let’s just avoid it by having a region in which to move the pointer, and a pair of buttons (or 3, if you must) with which to click it.


I remember testing HP’s early touchscreens for their HP150 back in the mid-1980’s. Their A&B models had little holes around the edge with infrared to detect your finger passing to the tube screen. Accuracy was to about 1 centimenter.

I believe though that @whistler is referring to the touchpad, the thing in the laptop below the keyboard that “replaces” the mouse for a road warrior, not a touchscreen. (Tbh I dislike touchpads and take a mini-mouse.)

In this article you can see images of a touchpad that doesn’t have buttons and a touchpad that does.

I would guess that component manufacturers are looking to save cost and reduce moving parts, and hence have moved away from having a touchpad with buttons.


I knew that, I was just relating my little history of touch+{addyouritemhere}.

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Like nearly every other bad design trend in the industry, you can blame buttonless touchpads on Apple, which introduced the idea in 2008 with its large multi-touch touchpads without physical buttons. The idiotic tech press raved about how wonderful pinch-to-zoom was on a big touchpad, despite the fact that most laptop users rarely use that gesture on their touchpads. All the rest of the laptop industry decided like lemmings that they had to try and match Apple’s large touchpads, which meant getting rid of physical buttons on the touchpad.

I love physical buttons on touchpads, but they seem to be going the way of the dodo, and I don’t think they will ever come back. This is another example of the idiocy of the electronics companies chasing the latest fad in the industry, rather than listening to feedback from their customers. At a certain point, when the technology gets good enough that it serves most people’s needs, the easiest way to keep “innovating” is to start adding anti-features, and this is a good example of that phenomenon.

I have learned to deal with buttonless touchpads by getting rid of the button areas on the touchpad and using a one finger touch for left clicks and a two finger touch for right clicks, but that is much less convenient than using physical buttons.


reading this thread makes me want to watch this film again >

also closely related to >

Fortunately, buttoned touchpads are still available from vendors. Is someone willing to set up a poll (because I still don’t have enough karma)?

@kieran For sure, minimice are always better but we might as well do something with that real estate at the bottom of the keyboard.

You need to work on your karma, dude. :slight_smile:

Done. Touchpad buttons on Librem laptops?

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And don’t forget the hardware kill switch for that too!