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Wacom has provided multitouch capable tablet digitizer/touchpad and tablet PC digitizer/touchscreen combinations for several years now. Initially multitouch was limited to two finger touch (2FGT). Wacom has since introduced more capable touch hardware. The third generation BambooPT and Intuos5 touch tablets have 16FGT, while the Cintiq 24HD touch has 10FGT. The tablet PCs with Product IDs 0x100, 0x101, and 0x4001 all have 10FGT.

With the addition of the mt.h (multi-touch header) to the 2.6.38 kernel and the multitouch code to the 1.12 X Server (X Input 2.2) the plumbing is in place for true linux multitouch that can use the full capabilities of the Wacom touch hardware.

The xf86-input-wacom driver supports 2FGT gestures as a legacy feature from linuxwacom grandfathered in. To prevent proliferation of driver specific gestues no new in-driver gestures are planned. The thinking is it is far more useful to have touch gestures abstracted from input drivers and supported by a gesture engine that can be used by all drivers and multitouch aware applications. Accordingly starting with xf86-input-wacom-0.18.0 when you disable xf86-input-wacom's default in-driver 2FGT support all the hardware-tracked fingers pass up to the X server. That allows all of the hardware reported touch contacts to be handled by the new multitouch through X Server features (XI2.2; ABI >= 16) and supporting drivers.

While the plumbing is in place either Desktop specific or cross-Desktop gesture engines have to be written and multitouch features added to toolkits and applications. Multitouch is still in a state of flux so this information has to be viewed as preliminary and subject to change. Any contributions re multitouch to this wiki page are appreciated.

Disable xf86-input-wacom In-driver 2FGT Gestures

As mentioned above starting with xf86-input-wacom-0.18.0 when in-driver 2FGT gestures are disabled by turning the Gesture parameter off the touch contacts are now passed to the X Server. This can be done in a custom .conf file as in this example 52-wacom.conf:

    Option "Gesture" "off"

or using xsetwacom.

xsetwacom set "Wacom Bamboo 16FG 4x5 Finger touch" Gesture off

Of course you would use your touch <device name> from xinput list.

In-driver Two Finger Gestures

When first using a Wacom tablet's "touchpad" features you have to be patient because there is somewhat of a learning curve. It does not have the same "feel" as a laptop touchpad. One example is the Wacom scrolling direction is reversed from Synaptic touchpad scrolling. Visualize it as grabbing the page with two fingers then sliding it up or down or left and right.

Once you've developed a feel for Wacom touch you can try varying the default values of the parameters ZoomDistance, ScrollDistance, and TapTime. In addition you can also change the "feel" of your tablet's touch by adjusting the xinput Acceleration Profile algorithm and its Device Acceleration parameters. Details are available in this FreeDesktop wiki article PointerAcceleration.

Tip: While this section is mainly focused on Wacom tablets much of this information applies to Wacom tablet PCs also.

Gesture List

Single finger (1FG)

  • Left click - tap, actual click happens after TapTime period elapses.
  • Left click drag - tap to select, quickly (within TapTime period) touch selection again. Then drag. Available only on touchpads.

Two finger (2FG)

  • Right click - one finger down + tap second finger
  • Vertical scroll - two fingers side by side (e.g. index + second), move up or down holding constant distance between fingers.
  • Horizontal scroll - two fingers side by side (e.g. index + second), move left or right holding constant distance between fingers.
  • Zoom in - two separated fingers side by side (e.g. thumb + index), bring together i.e. pinch.
  • Zoom out - two fingers side by side (e.g. thumb + index), spread.

Available in man wacom.

Xinput Acceleration Profile

To view Device Accel parameters being applied to your Wacom touch device first enter xinput list in a terminal. Using the <device name> or ID # returned for touch enter in a terminal:

xinput list-props "<device name>" or ID #

The most important parameter is the Device Accel Profile since that selects the algorithm that is applied to the pointer. The other three Device Accel parameters (Constant Deceleration, Adaptive Deceleration, and Velocity Scaling) then modify the algorithm. See the "AccelerationProfile [integer]" section in the wiki article linked above. The default Device Accel Profile is 0.

If you find the pointer arrow over accelerated with the default Device Accel Profile of 0, consider runtime xinput commands using the appropriate "Device Accel" parameters to compensate. Over acceleration can be caused by a couple of things. When the tablet is initialised as relative device, the X server doesn't have an axis range to help in scaling the movement. Also because Wacom touch has a higher resolution than the average mouse/synaptic touchpad it sends more events (a higher data rate). So the event stream can be faster than the default mouse/synaptic settings expect, which is why increasing Constant Deceleration makes sense.

The defaults are 1, 1, and 10 for Constant Deceleration, Adaptive Deceleration, and Velocity Scaling. For an example let's use a Wacom Pen and Touch and adjust the settings to get less pointer acceleration and achieve a more acceptable feel:

xinput set-prop "Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Finger touch" --type=float "Device Accel Constant Deceleration" 1.250000
xinput set-prop "Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Finger touch" --type=float "Device Accel Adaptive Deceleration" 1.150000
xinput set-prop "Wacom BambooFun 2FG 4x5 Finger touch" --type=float "Device Accel Velocity Scaling" 10.000000

These xinput commands can be added to the touch section of a xsetwacom script, if you are using one.

Multi-finger Gestures

GNOME Shell Desktop

Tomeu Vizoso on his blog posted example code for a Mutter Gesture Engine plug-in. It includes gesture recognizers for pan, zoom and rotate actions, and he says creating new recognizers is pretty easy. He put the Mutter branch with the plug-in up for review on bugzilla #683382 The bug is considered as resolved obsolete because Mutter has been ported to XI2. So Gnome 3.8, due out 3-27-13, should have more multitouch support in Mutter/GNOME Shell.


Because the multitouch Xorg patches were posted and merged to master before GTK+ 3.4 came out, a minimal touch-related API was included in GTK+ 3.4 to provide basic touch support. Carlos Garnacho on his blog has demonstration code, the gtkgesturesinterpreter.c along with a demo video. And his gestures branch with a simple gestures demo was committed to GTK+ 1-17-13.


Already much of the multitouch plumbing is in place. Fedora 19 is scheduled for May 21,2013 and will have Gnome 3.8.

KDE Desktop

"Qt has had multitouch for quite some time and KDE also makes use of it already on X11. E.g. Plasma Active on Mer supports multi touch, but Plasma Active on openSUSE does not."


Qt5.0 uses a different method to define the beginning and end of a touch "gesture" compared to XI 2.2. Qt's current method will be retained and perhaps enhanced.



Unity Desktop

Ubuntu has devoted considerable effort into implementing multitouch support for users. A good overview is provided by the Ubuntu wiki's Multitouch page.

Unity System Gestures

Unity multitouch gestures with the Wacom driver: Disabling the xf86-input-wacom Gesture parameter makes available the 3 and 4 finger Unity system gestures. The tradeoff is you lose 2FGT gestures such as right click, scroll, and pinch zoom. Unfortunately it does not appear Touchégg can be used to add back the 2FGT gestures. It may be Unity consumes 2FG touches although it does not currently have 2FG system gestures. Because Ginn is seemingly not compatible with the Unity Desktop in Precise or later it isn't available to investigate 2FGT further. Given the lack of two finger touch availability the only practical option for 1 through 4 finger touch is to place touch on the Synaptic driver.

Unity multitouch gestures with the Synaptics driver: The xf86-input-synaptics driver also includes 2FGT gesture support. Three and 4 finger Unity system gestures are available automatically. The following assumes you have your Wacom tablet attached to a Desktop computer that does not have a Synaptic touchpad.

To use the Synaptics driver first confirm you have the xorg.conf.d directory in /etc/X11. If not create it:

sudo mkdir /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d

Then create the custom file 54-WacomMT-synaptics.conf:

gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/54-WacomMT-synaptics.conf

and paste the following snippet into it.

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "Wacom MT on synaptics"
        MatchIsTouchpad "on"
        MatchProduct "Finger"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Driver "synaptics"

This has the severe disadvantage of breaking Buttons/ExpressKeys configuration by xsetwacom because the Buttons are now handled by xf86-input-synaptics. So the Synaptics driver is not a tenable option for the Intuos5 or Cintiq 24HD touch tablets. And the BambooPT is a judgement call.

For one and two finger touch open System Settings and open Mouse and Touchpad. Go to the Touchpad tab, which now should be present. Under General uncheck "Disable touchpad while typing" and make sure "Enable mouse clicks with touchpad" is checked. Under Scrolling select "Two-finger scrolling" and "Enable horizontal scrolling". Under Pointer Speed set Acceleration and Sensitivity to your preferences.

The following is a list of touch Gestures with xf86-input-synaptics in Unity.

  • 1 finger tap > left click
  • 2 finger dbl. tap > right click
  • 2 fingers horizontal up or down > vertical scroll
  • 2 fingers vertical left or right > horizontal scroll
  • 3 finger press and drag > move window
(3 finger tap shows grab handles)
  • 4 finger swipe left/right > reveal/hide launcher (if the dock autohide is enabled)
  • 4 finger tap > open or close Dash

BambooPT button functions in xf86-input-synaptics as set by the kernel driver wacom.ko.

  • Button 1 left click
  • Button 2 up
  • Button 3 down
  • Button 4 right click

Note that one and two finger touch is being processed in the synaptics driver and so a X Server multitouch aware application would not see the one and two finger touches. In that case you have to disable "Enable mouse clicks with touchpad" and either disable scrolling or select Edge scrolling in Mouse and Touchpad for the application to see the X Server one and two finger touches. This is explained on the wiki page Touchpad Support.

The Synaptics driver has many configuration options. See man synaptics and man synclient in a terminal.

Turning Unity Gestures Off

For UI consistency reasons Unity makes no provision for modifying its stock gestures or adding gestures. Also by design Unity does not allow disabling its system gestures which is necessary to use another gesture engine to customize gestures. See "Unity Gesture UI Guidelines". On askubuntu "How can I disable arbitrary default multitouch gestures in Unity?" is a good discussion of what's needed. The gesture code has to be disabled and then Unity re-compiled.

Gesture Engines for GNOME Shell, KDE, MATE, and Cinnamon Desktops

In addition to the one built into the Unity Desktop Ubuntu has two gesture engines. Ginn was the original one and is being replaced by Touchégg. If you don't use the Unity Desktop you'll need Ginn or Touchégg for 2, 3, and 4 finger gestures. Ginn is installed by default through Precise. However Ginn appears incompatible with the version of the Unity Desktop in Precise and later. See the launchpad bug report #985121. Because Ginn is no longer installed by default after Precise and has been moved to the Universe repository Touchégg is probably the way to go for Quantal and later. Especially since there is now a gesture configuration gui for it. The Touchégg in Precise's repository is broken and a newer version needs to be compiled to get it working in Precise, a possible reason to stick with Ginn for Precise (without the Unity Desktop) and earlier.


Ginn is an acronym for Gesture Injector: No-GEIS, No-Toolkits. Available at this launchpad site. Instructions for editing the ginn configuration file wishes.xml (located at /etc/ginn/wishes.xml) to add custom gestures is available in man ginn entered in a terminal. Also see the ginn wiki page. There is a duplicate wishes.xml file in /usr/share located at /usr/share/ginn.

Ginn, once installed from the repository, works in Kubuntu Precise (12.04) with xf86-input-wacom-0.18.0 or higher as soon as the xsetwacom command Gesture off is run. Presumably it will also work with the Gnome Shell Desktop and Mint 13 Maya's Cinnamon or MATE Desktops.


Downloads available at the touchegg site along with a wiki with instructions. "OS X-like multitouch gestures for Macbook Pro running Ubuntu 12.10" appears to be a good tutorial.

The default touchégg in the Precise repositories does not work, it seg faults. The touchegg-1.1 CHANGELOG says:

[+] Touchégg v1.1 (2012/07/22)
 - Added Ubuntu Precise compatibility

The instructions on the site to compile touchegg in Precise (12.04) did not work. Using sudo apt-get build-dep touchegg installed libgeis-dev libqt4-dev libqt4-qt3support qt4-linguist-tools qt4-qmake. An error is generated on make which required installing libutouch-geis-dev. Touchégg then compiles and installs.

So to compile touchegg in Maya/Precise the following should work. Download Touchégg v1.1 onto your Desktop and extract it. Then:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libgeis-dev libutouch-geis-dev libqt4-dev libqt4-qt3support qt4-linguist-tools qt4-qmake
cd Desktop/touchegg-1.1
sudo make install

The touchegg.conf file appears at ~/.config/touchegg after a reboot. Like ginn there is a duplicate example .conf file in /usr/share at /usr/share/touchegg. The Touchegg-gce gui edits the active .conf file at ~/.config/touchegg/touchegg.conf. To install the gui on Maya/Precise run the following.

cd Desktop
git clone https://github.com/Raffarti/Touchegg-gce.git
cd Touchegg-gce

There is no install so run the touchegg-gce binary in the Touchegg-gce folder. Can use a launcher if you want to use the gui.

Touchégg once installed works in Kubuntu Precise (12.04), Gnome Shell Quantal (12.10), and Mint 14 Cinnamon with xf86-input-wacom-0.18.0 or higher, as soon as the xsetwacom command Gesture off is run. Presumably it will also work with other Ubuntu release and Desktop combinations.

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