Recently I had the opportunity to work on an Acer Aspire One netbook. It’s rare that I get the chance to work on a linux desktop system for a client. Most of my desktop users that I support run Windows (although I primarily run linux on my machines.) I get to do a fair amount of server level work with linux variants, but this one, being a desktop install, intrigued me.
The issue was that the buttons on the trackpad didn’t work. She also indicated that she had tried a usb mouse and those buttons didn’t work either. As I looked at it, I had already spent some time browsing through bug reports getting ideas on what might be the issue. It behaved exactly as she described and so then the real fun began.
I looked at the xorg.conf file from /etc/X11/ – it looked normal (it was the default config file) I first tried doing some edits to clearly specify the trackpad device (cursor movement with the trackpad had been working though, it was just the clicks that weren’t registering.
So, after making changes I restarted gdm (the greeter) ( /etc/init.d/gdm restart ) and gave a try. Some things started working, tapping the trackpad substituted for the left click and the right click work. The external mouse worked with both buttons.
So, I chipped away a bit more. I verified that the files existed for some of the appropriate packages, some I reinstalled. I uninstalled compiz (having read a bug report related to that) I reverted to an older version of xinput-synaptic and came back to current. I tried mapping the mouse buttons with an .xmodmap file.
One thing that I did notice was that the right trackpad or both mouse buttons would work only when I had restarted gdm, not on a freshboot. So, I started looking at the boot process and the output in /var/log/Xorg.0.log to see if there was anything significantly different being reported there. Nothing useful.
I disabled the “dontzap” feature that’s new in jaunty. If you read the release notes they have disabled the ability to “kill off” the graphical interface with ctl-alt-backspace… I essentially re-enabled that option so it’s quickly and easily possible to restart the gui.
The bottom line of what I found was this. If you’re moving the mouse (trackpad) when gdm first starts, the mouse buttons will be usable (with the exception of the left button on the trackpad (!)) If you don’t move the mouse at the startup of gdm it get’s “stuck” in pointer mode… I can bring the cursor down over the “options” menu in the lower left corner of the greeter screen and it still holds it’s i-beam icon as though you are editing a text window, the options does not highlight on the mouseover and no right/left click/tapping will work until gdm is blown away and restarts with a ctl-alt-backspace.
After that everything works with the exception of the left trackpad button (although you can tap.) I tried reversing the buttons and it’s still the one on the left that doesn’t function.
Wondering if I was missing something I tried an experiment. I (using another computer) installed Jaunty 9.04 to a USB hard drive and brought it up to date with all the current updates. I booted this usb hard drive on three or four systems and it worked marvelously (hardware detection “just worked” on each machine.) The only one to exhibit any problems was this Acer Aspire One ZG5. Guess what the problems were? well…. if I didn’t move the mouse when the greeter screen first came up I wasn’t able to do any mouse clicking (the pointer seemed frozen in the i-beam cursor icon mode) and even if I did (or restarted gdm) the left button did not work.
I came to the conclusion that there were two different issues, one I suspected may be a software issue and an update could fix it (the initial boot problem with useless buttons.) The second problem (left click not working) could just be a hardware issue – since it only affects the trackpad and not an external mouse. As I think about it, I do wonder if the trackpad were faulty (left button) could it cause the other problem when it’s first initialized (?)
If I knew I would have access to the machine again I might have filed a bug report with Ubuntu to see if they could get someone to verify this as software issue (or not). SInce I won’t have access to it, I wouldn’t be able to follow up with more information if they needed it, so instead of a bug report I’m posting here.
The only way to know for sure if it’s Ubuntu 9.04 or the netbook is to have an identical model to test, which I don’t.
So, does anyone out there have the same IDENTICAL model netbook – with jaunty 9.04 – are you seeing a similar problem or does it work just fine? The updates on this machine were current as of June 1, 2009.
Comments are open in case anyone has some input on the issue.
Related PostsRelated Posts
- Sansa Clip Plus 8GB | Sansa Clip+ Back in the day I had got a Frontier Labs Audio player... it was the Nexia predecessor to the nexblack. It really was a pretty good music player. It supported compactflash for storage (no interntal storage.) It used double A batteries and had real buttons. MP3 was the primary audio......
- Google Earth for Linux One of the big linux news stories yesterday was the release of google earth for linux. Essentially the Google earth team has released "release 4" which is a beta version of the next release. It looks like there are greater "user contribution" capabilities with this release. I've tried the download......
- Microsoft working to ensure Windows Validation works with Firefox I've got to say, I'm impressed that this is happening. From the IEblog... The core of my teamâs job is to make IE7 and Windows Vista so compelling so that people choose our products. The people who work on Windows want you to have a good experience, whether you use......
- Outlook 2007 tips While I'm on the subject of tips, here are a few tips for Outlook 2007. 1) Stop Outlook from suggesting names in the TO field. This is related to the .nk2 file I blogged about awhile ago. If you don't like that outlook suggests names for you, then you can......
- How To Save on Vacation Costs I don't know about you but I love to travel. I am one of those people who dreams about travelling the world for a living. But current reality says this is not an option, so yearly vacations have become my vice. Right now my husband and I are planning......
- Build Your Money Manifesting Muscles Using This Fun Technique Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr I recently came across a cool way to build up your money manifesting muscles on Steve Pavlina's website. I thought it was a great idea so I've been trying it out over the last couple of weeks with great success. I wanted to......
- Using the command line in linux – part 1
- Here I come to save the day – Mighty Mouse
- Opera security patch
- A closer look at x11vnc
- Google news rss feeds update