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Laptop users with Synaptics touchpad, using kernel 2.6.x



I've noticed a fair number of people lately who have been testing 
the 2.6.x kernel on laptops, reporting they are unable to use 
their laptop's touchpad anymore.

This is a known issue which is related to ACPI.  If you have one 
of these touchpads, and it does not work (most or all of them 
wont work), then currently you have to download a separate GPL 
licensed "synaptics" driver from the following website:

http://tuxmobile.org/touchpad_driver.html

In order to use these devices under 2.6.x kernels right now, you 
MUST download this driver binary, or download the source and 
compile it yourself.  I recommend using the binary driver as 
compiling the source will be overly complex for most people.

This driver is not currently included in the Red Hat beta nor 
rawhide.  The driver, being GPL licensed, is best included in a 
separate package outside of XFree86, since it does not come with 
XFree86, and people will assume that it does if it is included 
inside XFree86 packaging.

XFree86.org does not want to get bug reports from people about a
driver they do not supply or support, so I have intentionally not 
added the driver to our XFree86 packaging.

Unfortunately, in order to compile the GPL'd driver outside of
XFree86 packaging, requires that you have a complete XFree86
source code tree installed and built, so that the driver can be
built against it.  Currently, that would mean creating a
"synaptics-XFree86-driver" package, and adding the complete
XFree86 sources to the package and building them first, then 
building the driver and then discarding XFree86, and packaging 
the driver.  That is quite a lot of hassle and overhead, as well 
as making the package 60Mb+ bigger than it really needs to be.

The best solution all around, is to have an XFree86 driver
development kit, which allows externally supplied drivers that do
not come with XFree86 to be compiled with minimal source code and
required files.  XFree86 has a package called "XFree86-SDK" which
is intended to allow drivers to be built externally like this,
which is minimal in size, however XFree86.org doesn't maintain
this functionality very well and it is usually broken quite
badly.  It also doesn't work properly on all architectures we
need to support, and as such, the SDK is currently unuseable for
us.  Also, the SDK only works for video drivers currently, and 
not for input drivers.

At some point in the future, I will be making attempts to fix the 
XFree86 SDK, make it work on all architectures properly, and add 
support for input drivers.

This work is not planned to occur in the Cambridge project
timeframe however, and so the synaptics driver is in limbo right
now.  I am going to be investigating this more deeply in a few 
weeks time, however I'm not sure if there will be a sane way for 
me to include this driver in RPM packaging or not.

Please don't file bug report requests to have the driver added, 
as there are already several, and we're aware of the problem.  If 
I can come up with a decent solution in time, that doesn't create 
more problems for us, or for XFree86.org, I will try to get the 
driver in.

Thanks for your attention.


-- 
Mike A. Harris     ftp://people.redhat.com/mharris
OS Systems Engineer - XFree86 maintainer - Red Hat




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