Left-hand mouse with right-hand touchpad etc.

For the past seven years or so I’ve been using my computer mouse left-handed. Not that I’m left-handed, but this is just one step to help me avoid recurring RSI; unfortunately, the world is really biased against lefties. Other steps were the regular use of a tablet and ergonomic keyboard.
Things get rather more complicated with the use of laptop touchpads. Oddly, in Ubuntu Intrepid, when the mouse is set as left-handed, the touchpad also reverts to left-handed. Which is not too much of a problem if it’s just an issue with the buttons. But when tapping the pad brings up the context menu, it really gets confusing.

Usually it would just be a matter of editing the xorg.conf, but Intrepid dispensed with that and uses HAL for all config matters. This means one has to set config details in a rather different way. In short, what I did was:

  1. Set the mouse as left-handed from the system preferences tool.
  2. Set the touchpad to correctly interpret taps by creating a file under /etc/hal/fdi/policy (let’s call it 10-synaptics.fdi) with the following content:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<deviceinfo version="0.2">
  <device>
    <match key="info.product" contains="ALPS GlidePoint">
      <merge key="input.x11_options.TapButton1" type="string">3</merge>
      <merge key="input.x11_options.TapButton3" type="string">1</merge>
    </match>
  </device>
</deviceinfo>

Another issue was my repeatedly hitting the touchpad by mistake while typing. This was easily solved by adding the following command to the startup commands in the session settings:

  • syndaemon -i 1 -d
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