Taking back the old scrollbars in Ubuntu

Today I couldn’t take it any more and I had to do it …

I’m a Thinkpad Lenovo X61s owner with which I don’t use nor miss a mouse thanks to the awesome TrackPoint included. Because of that, the new Ubuntu’s scrollbars are, from the user interactivity point of view, just not usable.

Leading quickly to the “ham” 🙂 , disabling them is just a matter of writing in a console:

$ sudo echo "export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0" > /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars

and reboot.

I’m not saying that the new scrollbars aren’t an enhancement. They allow a better usage of the display but, from the functional point of view, they only work as positioning indicator. They will tell you the progress in the scrollable window but, necessarily, you will need a wheel in your mouse or a way to emulate it. If you often have to grab the scrollbar, from a functional point of view, they are just a failure.

Hence, you will miss in Ubuntu a way to tune on or off its usage without having to use these kind of “hacks“.

Of course, another alternative would have been “to emulate” the mouse wheel through the middle button. I my case, this is not an option since last time I walked this path I decided to have a better “select and paste” experience with this button rather than use it as modifier for the vertical/horizontal scrolling.

Anyway, if you want to use the middle button this way, you had to do some changes to the “XOrg” config file before. Now, you just have to install the “gpointing-device-settings” package:

$ sudo aptitude install gpointing-device-settings

and select the proper options after launching its UI from “System -> Preferences -> Pointing devices“.

This and many other tricks can be found at ThinkWiki.

Who knows, maybe, in some time, I will change my mind and retake this functionality (and the new Ubuntu scrollbars) …

12 thoughts on “Taking back the old scrollbars in Ubuntu

  1. First of all, in the new Ubuntu, middle-mouse scrollwhell emulation is on by default. Second, having emulation does not prevent you from using middle-mouse button to paste the PRIMARY clipboard. It serves a dual function when the emulation is enabled.

    Third, it would be muc more useful to explain how to enable proper acceleration for the TrackPoint. This is how I went from slow and unusable to snappy acceleration:

    Section “InputClass”
    Identifier “Clit Mouse options”
    MatchIsPointer “on”
    MatchProduct “DualPoint Stick”
    Driver “evdev”
    Option “EmulateWheel” “1”
    Option “EmulateWheelButton” “2”
    Option “EmulateWheelInertia” “5”
    Option “EmulateWheelTimeout” “200”
    Option “XAxisMapping” “6 7”
    Option “YAxisMapping” “4 5”
    Option “Emulate3Buttons” “0”
    # Option “AccelerationProfile” “integer”
    # Select the profile. In layman’s terms, the profile constitutes
    # the “feeling” of the acceleration. More formally, it defines how
    # the transfer function (actual acceleration as a function of
    # current device velocity and acceleration controls) is
    # constructed. This is mainly a matter of personal preference.
    # 0 classic (mostly compatible)
    # -1 none (only constant deceleration is applied)
    # 1 device-dependent
    # 2 polynomial (polynomial function)
    # 3 smooth linear (soft knee, then linear)
    # 4 simple (normal when slow, otherwise accelerated)
    # 5 power (power function)
    # 6 linear (more speed, more acceleration)
    # 7 limited (like linear, but maxes out at threshold)
    Option “AccelerationProfile” “7”
    Option “AccelerationNumerator” “14”
    Option “AccelerationDenominator” “4”
    Option “AccelerationThreshold” “0”

  2. Germán: quizá sea incluso una mejor opción. Al menos liberaré unos cuantos Kbs 😉


    1. I’m talking about Ubuntu Natty. As many of my surrounding mates, we tend to wait some time to upgrade Ubuntu since we have had quite a bunch of bad experiences.

    2. I didn’t say that emulation and copy&pasting were incompatible. I said that the experience is worse. And this is because, then, every time you use the emulation you paste something to the place you are in with the mouse 🙁

    3. Explaining the hacks of the wheel emulation was not the point of the post, and I already included a link to ThinkWiki for the people interested.

  3. Being the person that both added the code to the evdev driver to have timeouts emulating the wheel so I could use the trackpoint and added the code to the xserver to handle InputClass, I can completely concur with Tobias. The three things you need in an InputClass are:

    Option “EmulateWheel” “yes”
    Option “EmulateWheelButton” “2”
    Option “XAxisMapping” “6 7”

    The emulate timeout has been default for about 3 years. It makes it so that a simple click acts like button 2, but holding the button and moving the pointer will act like the wheel.

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  5. Quizas sean una mejora como dices, pero con una tablet son un infierno! es muy dificil controlarlas con dispositivos de toque

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