Turn off touchpad while typing on Linux

I installed Linux Mint 16 a few days ago on my Netbook. The touchpad didn't turn off while I was typing, so I dug around for a way to make it do so.

It turns out you can enable this feature on the "Mouse and Touchpad" configuration app (just search for that string among your applications) on the Touchpad tab. However, this default setting didn't work for me, because it turned off the touchpad for two seconds every time I typed something. For me, that was way too long.

(Note, in the following setup, I set my delay to 0.25 seconds. Feel free to change the 0.25 in the command in step 5 to whatever you want.)

Thus, it was a more manual configuration for me. Here goes:

  1. Run "Session and Startup". Again, you can just search for this from the "Start Menu" for Linux Mint.
  2. Go to the tab "Application Autostart".
  3. Click "Add"
  4. Type a name like "Synaptic Daemon", add in some comments about what you are doing in the description field, like: "Turn of touchpad while typing"
  5. In the command window, put:

    syndaemon -d -i 0.25 -K -R

  6. Click OK
  7. Make sure that the entry you just created has a little "x" in the box to the left of it.
  8. Click close.
  9. Restart your system.

Now your touchpad should not accept input while you are typing. Almost immediately after you stop typing, it should again respond to your movements.

Dual wielding laptops

My poor netbook (Samsung NF210, which you might remember from my issue with the Grub 2 menu) has been dying under the weight of Matlab, LabView, and all the other normal programs that I run on a constant basis such as Acrobat Reader, TeXnicCenter, and Chrome.

I have had to pull my old laptop (Acer Aspire 5670) out of retirement. After a couple hours of setup, I had two laptops set up on my desk. This is when I found out that I am not an embarrassingly parallel procedure. By effectively doubling the number of processors that I was running on, my productivity went up about 50%.

The key to all of this has actually turned out to be a piece of software that I admit I turned my nose up to a bit when I first saw it...

Dropbox

I installed Dropbox on both laptops and told them to sync my folder full of work files. A couple minutes later everything was mirrored on both computers as well as on the online system.

Since I have wireless Internet on both laptops, they can both connect instantaneously the the online Dropbox repository and sync files with one another. The total lag time from when I save a file on one to when it shows up on the other is on the order of mere seconds.

This allows me to work on highly technical material on one computer, and be completely confident that all of my progress is saved elsewhere. Additionally, it gives me great mobility and freedom of mind.

I admit, I should probably be a poster child for Dropbox at this point.

Care about your files? Not too worried about putting them in the cloud? Try Dropbox. It impressed me.

Manually removing an OS from Grub 2 bootloader in Ubuntu 11.10

This post is here partially because I have had to go through this action several times in the last few months.

I recently bought a Samsung NF-210 Netbook and I have been fighting with setting it up since then. The netbook comes preloaded with Windows 7 Starter. I added in Ubuntu as a dual-boot option. I started with Ubuntu 10.10, but that proved to be difficult to use because it did not correctly handle the function keys for changing brightness or volume.

This same solution worked on Ubuntu 10.10 as 11.10.

My goal is to remove the Windows Recovery Environment from the automatic listing on the grub boot menu. This is more than just a cosmetic change because if you accidentally run this partition, it will fubar your boot partition causing you to lose the ability to boot using grub. Thus you will have to reinstall grub or possibly an entire OS (either linux or windows) depending on how you have set up your hard drive.

  1. Fire up a terminal, switch to root via "sudo su".
  2. "cd /etc/grub.d" - changing to the directory where we do most of the work.
  3. "chmod -x 30_os-prober" - turning off the automated ability of grub to find new non-linux OSes.
  4. "vi /boot/grub/grub.cfg" - going to see the current profile of OSes detected on the computer.
  5. Scroll down until you spot the entries for your windows partitions. Select the one(s) that you do want to show up on the menu. Copy them to the clipboard. Copy this text to somewhere so that you can paste it into the next file...
  6. "vi 40_custom" - This custom file lets you add your own OS profiles to the grub menu.
  7. Paste in the text that you copied earlier (below the comments).
  8. "chmod +x 40_custom" - The file needs to be executable in order to be included in the grub menu.
  9. "update-grub" - Grub needs to re-create its menu.

Now when you reboot you should see that only the OSes that you selected and moved will show up. In my case I moved my Windows 7 profile, but not the Recovery Environment profile. Thus when I boot I see all of my menu items except the recovery profile. Yey!