Fix for Touchpad Trouble in Ubuntu 11.10

One of the issues introduced by Ubuntu 11.10 on my Eee PC 901 is touchpad dragging. The tap-and-drag gesture, for moving the cursor with the mouse button depressed, is too sensitive. I have to tap as fast I can to activate the gesture every time.

Today I pursued the bug report for this issue to find a fix. It didn’t take long to find a workaround using synclient, which is a utility for manipulating options for Synaptics touchpads. Run this command to get the timeout before a tap is interpreted as a single tap:

synclient | grep "SingleTapTimeout"

On my system this option was set to 180, which is too fast. Run this command to double the timeout to 360:

synclient SingleTapTimeout=360

At this point, tap-and-drag should be much easier like in Ubuntu 11.04. But for me, it highlighted a second problem: there was a slight delay before any regular tap would register on the screen. This was very visible in the file browser, where there was a visible delay between tapping a file and that file becoming selected.

Enabling the “FastTaps” option fixes the delay issue:

synclient FastTaps=1

Now on top of touchpad dragging being fixed, the whole system feels more responsive! I hope that I haven’t been using Ubuntu on this netbook with FastTaps disabled all these years. All of the synclient options are documented in the synaptics manpage.

Changes made by synclient are not persistent across reboots. The proper way to set these options would be using Xorg configuration files. For now, I’ve just added the two synclient commands to Startup Applications to run automatically when I log in.

Archived Comments


Dear Tom,
you are my hero. I had the same problem but was too busy to look into it. And here you come solving my problem, without me asking :-)

Xiao-Long Chen

It seems that this is a Xorg bug, not a Synaptics bug. Looking at the source code for xf86-input-synaptics (xserver-xorg-input-synaptics on Ubuntu), src/synaptics.c has a line that reads:

pars->single_tap_timeout = xf86SetIntOption(opts, “SingleTapTimeout”, 180);


pars->fast_taps = xf86SetBoolOption(opts, “FastTaps”, FALSE);

It looks like those are the default settings now, unfortunately.


Wow thanks.
I was about to reinstall 11.04 just for that ridiculous bug.


Thanks a lot! You just saved that 11.10 version from format and installing 10.x ^_^

nelson young


I keep getting this message after typing in “synclient SingleTapTimeout=360”

“Can’t access shared memory area. SHMConfig disabled?”

How do I access this shared memory area?

I am running Ubuntu 11.10, 64 bit.


Awesome! Thank you very much for this!


Wow. Thanks! Was a problem with my Acer Aspire and Ubuntu 11.10.


Thanks a LOOOOT!!!


That was helpful!


Tom, you kick ass! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this. You’ve probably saved a thousand people from this headache by now.

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