Coordinate ranges for absolute axes

libinput requires that all touchpads provide a correct axis range and resolution.

These are used to enable or disable certain features or adapt the interaction with the touchpad. For example, the software button area is narrower on small touchpads to avoid reducing the interactive surface too much. Likewise, palm detection works differently on small touchpads as palm interference is less likely to happen.

Touchpads with incorrect axis ranges generate error messages in the form:

Axis 0x35 value 4000 is outside expected range [0, 3000]

This error message indicates that the ABS_MT_POSITION_X axis (i.e. the x axis) generated an event outside the expected range of 0-3000. In this case the value was 4000. This discrepancy between the coordinate range the kernels advertises vs. what the touchpad sends can be the source of a number of perceived bugs in libinput.

Measuring and fixing touchpad ranges

To fix the touchpad you need to:

  1. measure the physical size of your touchpad in mm
  2. run touchpad-edge-detector
  3. trim the udev match rule to something sensible
  4. replace the resolution with the calculated resolution based on physical settings
  5. test locally
  6. send a patch to the systemd project

Detailed explanations are below.

libevdev provides a tool called touchpad-edge-detector that allows measuring the touchpad's input ranges. Run the tool as root against the device node of your touchpad device and repeatedly move a finger around the whole outside area of the touchpad. Then control+c the process and note the output. An example output is below:

$> sudo touchpad-edge-detector /dev/input/event4
Touchpad SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad on /dev/input/event4
Move one finger around the touchpad to detect the actual edges
Kernel says: x [1024..3112], y [2024..4832]
Touchpad sends: x [2445..4252], y [3464..4071]
Touchpad size as listed by the kernel: 49x66mm
Calculate resolution as:
x axis: 2088/<width in mm>
y axis: 2808/<height in mm>
Suggested udev rule:
# <Laptop model description goes here>
evdev:name:SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad:dmi:bvnLENOVO:bvrGJET72WW(2.22):bd02/21/2014:svnLENOVO:pn20ARS25701:pvrThinkPadT440s:rvnLENOVO:rn20ARS25701:rvrSDK0E50512STD:cvnLENOVO:ct10:cvrNotAvailable:*
EVDEV_ABS_00=2445:4252:<x resolution>
EVDEV_ABS_01=3464:4071:<y resolution>
EVDEV_ABS_35=2445:4252:<x resolution>
EVDEV_ABS_36=3464:4071:<y resolution>

Note the discrepancy between the coordinate range the kernels advertises vs. what the touchpad sends. To fix the advertised ranges, the udev rule should be taken and trimmed before being sent to the systemd project. An example commit can be found here.

In most cases the match can and should be trimmed to the system vendor (svn) and the product version (pvr), with everything else replaced by a wildcard (*). In this case, a Lenovo T440s, a suitable match string would be:

evdev:name:SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad:dmi:*svnLENOVO:*pvrThinkPadT440s*
hwdb match strings only allow for alphanumeric ascii characters. Use a wildcard (* or ?, whichever appropriate) for special characters.

The actual axis overrides are in the form:

# axis number=min:max:resolution

or, if the range is correct but the resolution is wrong

# axis number=::resolution

Note the leading single space. The axis numbers are in hex and can be found in linux/input-event-codes.h. For touchpads ABS_X, ABS_Y, ABS_MT_POSITION_X and ABS_MT_POSITION_Y are required.

The touchpad's ranges and/or resolution should only be fixed when there is a significant discrepancy. A few units do not make a difference and a resolution that is off by 2 or less usually does not matter either.

Once a match and override rule has been found, follow the instructions at the top of the 60-evdev.hwdb file to save it locally and trigger the udev hwdb reload. Rebooting is always a good idea. If the match string is correct, the new properties will show up in the output of

udevadm info /sys/class/input/event4

Adjust the command for the event node of your touchpad. A udev builtin will apply the new axis ranges automatically.

When the axis override is confirmed to work, please submit it as a pull request to the systemd project.