Lion like scrolling on Ubuntu – Inverse scrolling on Linux

Mac OSX Lion Logo
Lion, the latest operating sytem for mac from Apple.

Any one who has upgraded to Mac OS 10.7 Lion will will have had the new inverted scrolling (natural, as Apple call it) which I described in my last post.

However, while many may have found it irritating at first but chose to power through and get used to it, have got too used to it.  Now, other computers seem just wrong.

I hate it when it turns out Apple were right but it would seem that moving the page up and down rather than the scroll bar really is just, natural.

So here’s how you Linux folk can get Lion like scrolling working on your computer.  I’ve been using Ubuntu but I’m sure we’ll see it working on other distributions.

Right then, open up your terminal, let’s get going. You can click on any of these screen shots to see larger versions.

Your first command is:

xinput list

This will show you a list of devices, work out which one is your trackpad or mouse. From my screenshot, you can see that my Trackpad’s ID is 13.

Now that you know this, it’s time for your second command, incorporating the ID you have found out.

xinput test 13

Replace the 13 with whatever your device ID was.

Now scroll up a little and then scroll down a little, finally press Ctrl+C to end the test. From this you can see the mapping of your scroll function. In my screen shot you can see that my scrolling up as button 4 and scrolling down as button 5, obviously they’re not really buttons but you’re not supposed to think of that ;]

Work out what your scroll button numbers are, you’re going to need them.

Now for the actual change, the button mapping of your device will be set up as something like 1 2 3 4 5. In my case; 1, 2 and 3 are likely left, right and middle button; 4 and 5 we know for my case are the scroll, obviously they may be different for you, take note of these along with the device number you already know.

So of course all we’re needing to do is swap these round, here we go:

xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 5 4

Now pay attention to how that’s made up; we’ve got your device number in there (I’m 13 remember) and we’ve flipped round the numbers that we know are mapped to our scrolling, (5 and 4)… also, while I’m patronising you like this, don’t forget those spaces. Now go try it out, look, it’s working! Aren’t you clever.

You’re not done yet!

All you’ve done is make it work for now, the moment you restart your computer, it’s going to go away so let’s just make this thing permanent shall we?

Now you can set up an xorg option (Option zAxisMapping “5 4”) but I’m still in my patronising mood and thinking I should just give you the easy option so all we’re going to do is take that last command we typed in (xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 5 4) and make it run on startup.

So open up your System Settings and choose Startup Applications.

Now just click Add and type in the command along with a Name and description. You’re all done, you’re natural Lion like scrolling is all done. Congratulations, you may roar, raaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Ubuntu 11.04 Installation on low storage netbooks (Eee PC 901)

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux Operating Systems and with the release of 11.04, I was keen to have a dedicated computer running it, so with an Eee PC netbook at hand, I had the challenge of installing it on a system with very little space.


In the past, Ubuntu has had a dedicated netbook version for small laptops like this but the interface was so popular they chose to mix the interface into the main Ubuntu Desktop version and simply rebrand it as “Ubuntu” meaning that all Ubuntu computers share the same interface that is suitable for both desktop and netbook.

So I bought this tiny computer yesterday second hand in a Cash Converters store with Windows XP preinstalled, well obviously I had to put a fix to that.

The specification of the Eee PC 901 that I bought came with two solid state drives on board: one 4GB drive for the operating system and applications and one 8GB drive for my own files. A quick installation using the presets for replacing XP left me with 0 bytes of space left on my first drive which effectively crippled the computer.

My challenge then was to set up the system in a way that best utilised the drives I had on board.

By default, when Ubuntu installs, it partitions the main drive it is installing on with a swap partition to use for virtual memory management. In my case, that was 1GB, so already I’d lost a gigabyte of space for my operating system.

Now a solid state drive like the one in my Eee PC has its lifetime limited by the number of writes it can perform, as a swap partition is accessed so often, it can severely drop this lifetime so I chose not to have one.

Next I would have to make sure my system knew to use the second, larger drive for my Home directory where I would be storing all of my personal data.

I chose to create a Ubuntu Live USB Stick as detailed on Ubuntu’s download page here and install it using that, when booting on Eee PC, hold down the escape key to be able to select the usb stick as the device to boot from.

Now after selecting to install Ubuntu on your computer, I’d recommend you connect it to the internet if you can and tell it to “Download updates while installing”, you will also spot the option to install some third party software that is not open source like Ubuntu. I would recommend this as it installs various bits that you’re likely to use, like MP3 support and the ability to view Flash media online. It’s not necessary but it makes like so much easier if you have it. To do this, select “Install this third-party software” and continue with setup.

Next up is to setup the drive partitioning. If you’ve already got an Operating System installed, such as Windows XP or another Linux distribution, you’ll have the option to “Install Ubuntu alongside them.” Now as we’ve already established that we don’t really have the space to do this, we would rather erase the disk, however, we already know that the default method of “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” won’t utilise the space on our netbook the way we require it to, so instead, choose “Something else” to be able to setup the partitions our own way.

Now this is where the important stuff is done. Delete all partitions across the devices and then, on the small (4GB) drive, click Add and choose to create an ext4 partition with the mount point set to root (/). Now, on the larger (8GB) drive, choose to create another ext4 partition with the mount point set to be your home directory (/home). Finally, make sure the boot loader installation is set to be on the smaller drive and click “Install Now.” You’ll receive a warning message about not using a swap partition, but as I’ve explained, that’s not something we’re wanting so just continue with setup.

And that’s it, now you have Ubuntu 11.04 all up and running on your netbook, congrats!

Microsoft buys Skype – Will Mac and Linux support Suffer?

Microsoft has agreed to buy Skype for $8.5 billion. That’s an awful lot of money for a company that was recently valued at a lot less and has been struggling to make a profit but what does this mean for Mac and Linux users?

I’m not concerned about the cost and I’m sure that Microsoft will help an already great business go far. What I’m concerned about is the user, specifically, the non Microsoft user.

Microsoft insist that they will keep Skype multi-platform, a feature that has helped keep Skype on top of the Internet Phone market. Skype has feature rich applications for not just Windows, but Macs, Linux and several mobile platforms. I have no doubt that Microsoft will continue development for these platforms but my concern is about the extent to which they will do this.

My primary computers are a Windows 7 desktop and an Apple MacBook running Snow Leopard. I have no bias between Mac and Windows and believe both platforms have their benefits. However, any Mac user can tell you of their frustration with Microsoft Messenger.

On Windows, Microsoft’s Messenger is feature rich. You have winks, web cams, facebook integration, Games, Photo sharing, Video Sharing, Video Messages, Slideshows, the list goes on. However, Microsoft Messenger for mac has very few of these features, in fact, up until a few months ago, it didn’t have Webcam support, something the windows version has had for as long as I’ve known it.

The reason for this is simple, Microsoft doesn’t give enough support to its mac developments team, I remember seeing a support forum on the Messenger for Mac site when people were complaining about the lack of webcam support in which a member of the development team cited lack of funding as an issue. I won’t go into details of the Linux development team… there isn’t one.

So yes, I believe Skype will continue to be available for Mac and Linux but my concern is that with closer integration with the Windows Live Network, will great new features, developed by Microsoft also appear on other platforms and if so, will they keep all platforms in sync with each other.

I don’t want a great new feature appearing on Skype for Windows and having to wait months, if not years, for it to appear on Mac and Linux because Microsoft wants to concentrate on making Skype for Windows.