Wednesday, November 7, 2012


While I wait for the replacement memory riser card to arrive in the mail, I've been using the Linux box for more than just running Firestorm. I'm getting used to things, at least enough for that purpose and some limited web browsing and such. I'm running into the next hurdle, though: What do I use for a pointing device?

To understand my issue, you need to see just what the workspace I sit in front of for hours a day looks like:

Quit snickering. Yes, I get real work done here.

The screen on the left is the Linux system, and the one on the right is the Mac Pro. The black keyboard is one I got with a refurbished HP desktop I bought for a firewall; it's the cheapest piece of crap generic keyboard I've ever seen. I typo on it at far higher a rate than I do on anything else I've ever used. The keyboard on the right is an Apple wired keyboard I love. To the right is an Apple Magic Trackpad, sitting on top of a Wacom Graphire tablet. The trackball in roughly the center of the picture is for the Linux box.

I love the Apple keyboard and Magic Trackpad. The Magic Trackpad, in particular, enables multitouch gestures - and I've become very dependent on that. It's far too easy to get used to flicking two fingers to the left to back up a page in the browser history, for just one example.

The one capability I miss most, though, is the ability to scroll by dragging two fingers in any direction. I've been used to scrollwheel mice for years, and the trackpad's scroll functionality is an ingrained habit.  The trackball doesn't have it, and it's a real annoyance.

As you can see, a mouse is Right Out. There's no place to use one, let alone two. I also gave up on mousepads a long time ago, and there's a space worn in the finish of the desk under the Graphire where I used mice without one for a few years. I'm not fond of the trackball, either; it makes some operations either hard or impossible.

So I want a multitouch trackpad for the Linux box. Unfortunately, there's no one place to go for information on support for multitouch input for Linux. There's one page that has some information, but it's incomplete, and then it refers the user to another page that is a firehose of information without actually being informative. I just want one place that says "this trackpad works this way, and this trackpad works this way", so I can make an informed buying decision without having to become an expert on which device does what.

I think the Magic Trackpad actually works for multitouch on Linux, but I'm not sure. I may find myself trying the one I have when I can have the Mac down for a bit. If so, I'll get a second one (and be damned to the Apple haters out there). I'm already pretty sure that the piece of crap keyboard is getting replaced with an Apple keyboard just like the one I have.

Why do things have to be so hard, though?

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