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Trackpad Sensitivity in Ubuntu on Dell XPS 13

The biggest annoyance I have found since I moved in to this Dell XPS 13 laptop running Ubuntu is the over sensitivity of the trackpad.When I was typing, just the slightest touch of my wrist pads on the trackpad made the cursor jump around to some random place in the manuscript. It was becoming quite annoying for someone who spends a great deal of time writing on their laptop.

Then I came across a web page that recommended a program to download that would help tweak the trackpad’s sensitivity. I gave it a try.

From a terminal:  sudo apt-get-install gpointing-device-settings


Here’s a screenshot of my settings. After I used this program I was able to type without changing the cursor’s location all over my manuscript. I’m not sure if the settings will hold after a reboot. But things are running much better using this handy GUI. There is no About menu to tell me who is responsible for this handy app, but I really appreciate their efforts.

Now back to the novel.

16 thoughts on “Trackpad Sensitivity in Ubuntu on Dell XPS 13”

  1. The touch pad has beeen driving me nuts on my new and newly upgraded to 14.04 XPS 13. First there is the problem that when I am typing the mouse keeps jumping all over the place, even when my hands don’t hit the touch pad. Then, there is the issue that even the click buttons are touch sensitive, so it’s impossible to accurately or reliably right-click something – and I’m working with an application where I regularly need to do that. What happens, is that I put the cursor where I want it, then I go to right-click, but the approach of my finger to the button moves the cursor from where it is supposed to be, and around the time a physical right-click is registered the touchpad also registers a normal ‘touch’ left-click. So, you want to just do right-click at a pre-specified location, but what actually happens is left-click right-click or right-click left-click somewhere else but close by. Then all mayem ensues, as you end up having selected some item on a context menu which closes a file or does some other action you never wanted to do. It’s a complete nightmare and completely unusable. I have resorted to turning of the use of the touchpad for clicks completely (although I have just discovered that I could use CTRL-F10 for right-click which might work), but I am still annoyed by the cursor jumping locations as I type.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone actually tested this laptop before building it. Feels more like someone just put some parts together and hoped for the best. I have problems with wireless connectivity and speed. I wouldn’t recommend this laptop for anyone who want to do real work on it, which is why my company purchased it for me.

  2. Oh and by the way, this “too much sensitive touchpad” bug is not Dell-specific. I had the EXACT same trouble with Ubuntu 04.13 on a Macbook Pro 5.3 (2009), and the touchpad device was not the same. I guess it’s a trouble with the settings in the app tha handles the touchpad, and I’m pretty sure it’s related to Ubuntu, because I read that this bug don’t show with other distribs…

  3. Hello !

    I own a Dell XPS Gold Edition, installed a fresh new Ubuntu 14.04 on its SSD (I got rid of Windows 8.1 pretty soon). I’m happy with my new system except for this touchpad issue. The palm sensitivity is too “touchy”, and I use this laptop mainly for writting jobs, so it’s a VERY annoying bug… I just installed gpointing-device-settings but it seems that the settings are not saved when I close the app (when I launch it again, it’s back to default settings).

    Another “fix” is to use syndaemon, but on my system, it freezes the cursor after a minute, each time I reboot (if, and only if, I added the command to my startup utility).

    FYI, here is the syndaemon command I can enter in my terminal (“0.5” is half a second, the time before sensibility of the touchpad comes back after typing) :

    syndaemon -i 0.5 -d &

  4. How is 14.04 working out over all for the XPS13? I have one that I’m considering updating. Have not been too impressed with 12.04. Mouse issues as you’ve said and glitchy screen (black spots appearing with fast scrolling).

    1. I’m liking 14.04 LTS quite a bit. No major issues for me. The track pad issue is fine now. I also really like the ability to shrink the menu bar on the left. I haven’t noticed any glitches on fast scrolling. My screen hardware has dead pixels which over time is becoming more annoying. I believe the pixels died due to the screen hitting the keyboard. Bad engineering. My next laptop will likely be a System 76 model. The Dell is sexy, but I have over-heating issues with it (cooling fan is on the bottom!) and the screen defects are bad. A laptop should be able to last more than a year without dropping pixels.

  5. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your post. I have to say Dell’s trackpad is pretty crappy. Your post has helped me set the trackpad to be slightly better but still no good.

    Especially compares to the trackpad on my mac

  6. Yes, I don’t get it why it’s so hard for Dell/Carnonical to implement a good working driver. Because it’s sold as the perfect ubuntu laptop it makes me worrying even more. Another hardware ‘bug’ I was facing the last days was the combined headphone jack (mic in, line out). I didn’t manage it to get the mic input working. I spend a long time reading the alsa-mixer and sound kernel docs but no suitable solution so far….It makes me sad. But I’ll stick at 12.04 for sevaral political reasons (no Amazon app e.g.), but that’s another story ;)
    So far thanks for your fast help!

  7. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve never gotten it to work perfectly. This post is a year old and now I’m on 13.10 and it’s still not perfect. I don’t know why this is so hard for Dell to get right. I’ve set the range narrow to all the way to the left. On the Speed Tab, my min and max speed are at the 1/3 mark, closer to slow and the acceleration is all the way high.

  8. Ah thanks. But could you also add one from the speed tab?
    It’s a bit tricky with the acceleration. Don’t get it working like I want. Thanks in advance!

  9. Hi, can you please reupload the screenshot?
    I’m right now trying to figure out the best settings but it’s not as easy as it sounds ;)

  10. I had a similar problem with my EliteBook 8460 but in this case, HP must have gotten quite a few comments about that exact issue because they incorporated a double-tap in the upper left corner that toggles that trackpad off or on. For people like us that’s a real boon. Until I found that feature, I would be typing along, staring off into space and when I paused to read what I’d wrote would find that in bits and pieces scattered throughout my work instead of appended at the end.

    More manufacturers need to incorporate that feature into their OSes if they’re interfacing with a trackball. Just sayin’.

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