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Petition to Synaptics Corporation regarding flakey Linux drivers

I am writing this on my new Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro which comes with a beautiful screen and your Synaptics Clickpad. I have created this petition because there are a lot of problems with your hardware on Linux that are frustrating, time-wasting, and distracting. Right now, the pointer moves when it shouldn’t, and doesn’t move when it should, which is pretty close to the worst-case scenario for a mouse.

I’ve been using your Trackpads happily for years, but with your new model, things are such a mess that they get in the way of my ability to work. What if we users added up all the time we have collectively wasted and sent you the bill? Given it already has about the same marketshare as the Mac, the total number would have a lot of zeros. With the time I’ve wasted, I’d sign up for $200 / year in any class action lawsuit.

I know you spend most of your effort working on the Windows drivers, and that is fine because it is cheaper to maintain Linux drivers. The community will help you. You’ve written a proprietary Linux driver, but you never made it available. Why write something almost no one uses? There is a free Synaptics Linux kernel driver written for your users, but it is buggy and you haven’t ever helped on it.

I wrote a full review of Arch on my new hardware talking about the problems with your mouse in more detail. The point is that your new devices with an integrated button require smarter software to be usable. Well, now that you’ve pushed this new hardware of dubious benefit and definite downsides, what are you going to do?

Synaptics should respect our freedoms, and:

  1. Release a copy of your proprietary Linux driver under the GPL (or public domain) and publish it somewhere where it can be used as a reference to minimize the need for any further reverse engineering.
  2. Find a kernel engineer from somewhere in your 550-person company and have them help maintain the existing in-kernel Linux driver. Aside from the obvious bad behavior you will notice when you install any distro, there are also a number of old bugs in the kernel database regarding Synaptics.
  3. Help ensure the Gnome, KDE, and XFCE user interfaces allow customers to configure the gestures and other advanced features. This configuration UI will be shared with other hardware devices so you won’t have to do that much. While you wait for the magic that is Windows 9, you must have some free time.

Windows might be the majority, but a big part of that is because the laptop manufacturers expend little to no effort on the alternative. Meanwhile, 50% of their customers would be happier running Linux if it was well setup! We can wonder why it hasn’t arrived on the desktop like it has for cellphones and servers, but in the meanwhile, it would be nice if the effing mouse worked well out of the box.

Linus can’t go around saying F-U to every hardware company although surely Synaptics deserves it. if you are frustrated with Synaptics hardware, take 1 minute and sign this petition where you can also add your comments!

5 comments to Petition to Synaptics Corporation regarding flakey Linux drivers

  • AC

    Change the company name as needed, and send this to every computer company.

    • I thought about making more letters or petitions, but petitions at least need to have a decent number of signatures or else it won’t do any good. I’ll try this and see how it goes. 575 people have read this, but only 19 have signed (3%).

      Even 100 signatures would be a nice number. If we don’t complain loudly to the hardware companies, then they will just keep ignoring us.

  • JasonLG

    You can’t force a hardware vendor to write Linux drivers. It doesn’t work that way. Basically what you’re saying to them is, “I bought a product that included your tech that worked fine on the OS it was designed for and then I installed an unsupported OS and now I’m pissed and you should spend money to fix it.” I’m a Linux desktop user also and do you know how I make sure Linux runs fine on my hardware… Wait for it… I spend 5 minutes Googling to see if the device I’m thinking about buying works with Linux. The only thing corporations understand is $$$. If you want better Linux hardware support then buy things that work well with Linux and don’t buy things that don’t. Vote with your wallet as they say.

    • You say that voting with your wallet is the only way to tell a company something. The problem is you are making a contradiction in that you aren’t actually telling them anything.

      I’m not trying to “force” Synaptics to help fix the Linux driver. I don’t own an Army or a Navy so I’m quite limited in my ability to actually get other people to do stuff. I may work with a lawyer to send them a letter which is another way to get their attention. I decided to start with a petition. Social media and the Internet are a great way to give each other ideas.

      It is true that the hardware was not shipped with Linux. But:
      1. This is not Synaptic’s choice, it was Lenovo’s chice.
      2. And what about customer choice? My laptop BIOS comes with the ability to boot in Legacy mode. Lenovo still faintly remembers the idea of customer choice. What is the point of Lenovo enabling a feature if their component vendors don’t also?
      3. It isn’t just about choice as if these were comparable things like red vs green. Linux is a superior OS. Why are they ignoring the better product?
      4. It isn’t that much work for a big company like Synaptics. They don’t even need to write a driver, just help debug them.

      Imagine you owned a restaurant and suddenly 5% of your customers started complaining and it was like .25% before. Would you ignore it just because your restaurant was full today? What about having a busy restaurant in the future? Companies “only” care about money, but good restaurants want you to complain even though they “only” care about money as well. Why is that?

      The answer is that they’d rather try to fix / resolve and make happy customers instead of having them only silently grumble to themselves they will never go back to that restaurant again.

      If I were to hire a lawyer, one of the first questions he’d ask me is how many other people are bothered by these problems. This petition can be used as a way to help make initial estimates.

      Voting with your wallet isn’t the only way. If you think that then please sign this petition and challenge your hopeless thinking. Don’t you wish you lived in a world where the voices of customers were more powerful than money?

      It is a lot easier to sign a petition than complain it won’t accomplish anything if no one signs it! Your thinking is a fallacy because it is self-sabotaging. I appreciate the power of people’s words. They can add their own voice to this.

      “Yes We Can!”
      “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

      Remember those lines? I didn’t vote for the guy who spoke ‘em, but aren’t they appropriate here.

  • […] Petition to Synaptics Corporation regarding flakey Linux drivers […]

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