Free Software

Software Engineering with FOSS and Linux

Dealing with mouse and touchpad freezes in Linux

Sometimes the desktop in several Linux distributions freezes for no apparent reason; active windows can still be used, and the mouse pointer can be moved around, but clicking is impossible. Furthermore, your touchpad can no longer be controlled; the ‘Touchpad’ tab disappears from the System / Preferences / Mouse menu. Even if mouse functionality eventually returns, the touchpad remains uncontrollable. This extremely annoying bug occurs randomly and may last for a couple of seconds, or until you restart your X server.

If you check your system’s log after such an event (/var/log/messages) you will notice a few entries similar to these:

Sep  9 09:38:15 umbra kernel: [ 4939.006198] psmouse.c: DualPoint TouchPad at isa0060/serio1/input0 lost sync at byte 1
Sep  9 09:38:15 umbra kernel: [ 4939.012220] psmouse.c: DualPoint TouchPad at isa0060/serio1/input0 - driver resynched.

Basically this indicates an IRQ conflict between your mouse and your touchpad. This is a Linux kernel bug (I am currently using 2.6.28) and as such it affects most distributions. An easy way to recover both mouse and touchpad functionality without having to restart your X server is restarting the mouse driver. Run the following commands on a terminal window:

sudo rmmod psmouse
sudo modprobe psmouse

If there is no terminal window open, you can use one of the following:

  • In Gnome or KDE, press Alt + F2, type gnome-terminal and press Enter
  • Press Control + Alt + F1, login with your username and password, type the commands, then press Control + Alt + F7 to get back to X

Hopefully a future kernel release will fix this problem for good.

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September 9, 2009 - Posted by | linux | , , , , , , ,


  1. The article has been added to the foss library.

    Comment by tsakf | October 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks! Been having this problem since doing a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.10 (on Dell Inspiron 1420).

    Comment by RayJ | February 22, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanks, very informative and helpful.
    Ubuntu 11.04 on Dell V131

    Comment by Dima | January 13, 2012 | Reply

  4. nice & concise. consnice.

    Comment by zpmorgan | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  5. cheer man – I’ve having this exact problem on mint v 12.

    ..and of course your rm then rescan worked a treat…


    Comment by v | January 29, 2012 | Reply

  6. Thanks aplenty. Been having this problem repeatedly on my Asus netbook when using Ubuntu 11.10. This works great.

    Comment by Joe | June 9, 2012 | Reply

  7. Been having a slightly different but similar issue with my trackpad on my Thinkpad. Thanks for the quick fix that actually WORKS! Much appreciated.

    Comment by caleb | July 17, 2012 | Reply

  8. Thanks so much for this fix. It saved a lot of time!

    Comment by djob82 | July 23, 2012 | Reply

  9. [...] in 2009, Xenofon Papadopoulos posted on mice and trackpads not working after a specific error comes up. He was on Linux kernel [...]

    Pingback by Cowabuntu! | August 28, 2012 | Reply

  10. Great: no need to end my session and my touchpad works again. Thanks! <3

    Comment by Casey | September 4, 2012 | Reply

  11. great :) it’s a beautiful workaround.. I have been roaming around for past few weeks all the mint forums for a solution.. Thanks a ton

    Comment by sandeep | January 8, 2013 | Reply

  12. Hi.. I’ve had the same problem… I was able to take it one step further.. I placed the following in my /etc/rc.local

    modprobe -r psmouse
    modprobe psmouse proto=imps

    this appears to permanently fix the problem….

    Comment by SammIam | February 28, 2013 | Reply

  13. Thanks so much!

    Comment by Flan | May 19, 2013 | Reply

  14. Superb! Thanks a ton …

    Comment by uego | October 15, 2013 | Reply

  15. Thank you, that worked very well

    Comment by trit | October 31, 2013 | Reply

  16. Brilliant tip :) got my touchpad back with no reboot. Thanks

    Comment by Snapey | February 25, 2014 | Reply

  17. My keyboard freezes as well. I have a fresh install of Av Linux 6. Does anybody know how I can prevent the freezing? I find this very strange for an operating sustem that gets so many ” hallelujahs” for stability etc…hmmmmm…..a bit disappointing to say the least…

    I hope I get this fixed so that I still can enjoy the supposedly nice OS Linux, especially the Av variant with lots of audio and video stuff…;-)

    Comment by John | August 6, 2014 | Reply

  18. What the lightening of happiness has told me.
    Oakley Jupiter Squared

    Comment by Oakley Jupiter Squared | September 10, 2014 | Reply

  19. Fantastic workaround thanks! Seems I’ve been having this problem for ages.

    Comment by Gauche | October 5, 2014 | Reply

  20. It’s the first time I encounter the problem on Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS.
    You saved me a lot of time searching a solution. Thanks guy !!

    Comment by Christophe | November 5, 2014 | Reply

  21. Thanks, but it didn’t work for me.

    Comment by isomorphismes | November 9, 2014 | Reply

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