How To: South Paw Logitech LX8 in Linux

September 6, 2008 by
Filed under: bash, gadget, HowTo, linux, Ubuntu 

I've been using the Logitech LX8 at work and at home for a couple of weeks now. I'd been searching for an ambidextrous mouse and the LX8 has been a pleasure to use. One of the frustrations at work is that our Windows XP machines are pretty well locked down, so all I can configure is swapping buttons 1 and 2 through the control panel mouse configuration. Well, at home I can do whatever I want, so I wanted to swap the functions of the side buttons in Linux so that the Firefox "Back" button was on the thumb side for left handed use.

To start off, If you haven't gotten your LX8 working in Linux yet, see my initial review for the proper xorg.conf settings. The settings from that post show how to make the mouse default to a right handed setup. To switch it to a left handed default, uncomment the LH Mouse line (remove the # at the start of the line) and comment out the RH Mouse line (insert a # at the start of the line).

Similar to Windows, the mouse configuration panel in Ubuntu only switches the main mouse buttons when setting it for left handed mouse operation. The solution to this is using the xmodmap command. My solution was to create a couple of aliases to switch between left and right handed mouse operations. Paste the following code into your ~/.bashrc file.

# aliases for left and right handed Logitech LX8 mice
alias lhm='xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1 4 5 7 6 8 9"'
alias rhm='xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9"'

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Edit Dec. 22, 2008 - I've changed my xorg.conf settings and bash aliases now that I have side scrolling working. See the new post here.

Now you can just open a terminal and enter lhm for a left handed mouse or rhm for a right handed mouse. These settings take effect immediately. An important thing to note is that if you set up your xorg.conf settings to default to a left handed mouse, then the effects of these aliased commands will be reversed, (i.e. lhm will make your mouse right handed and rhm will make your mouse left handed). If this is the case for you, just switch the commands in your .bashrc file.

If you need to troubleshoot, open up a terminal and type xev. A small window should open up labeled Event Tester. Move your cursor into this window click your mouse buttons. The terminal will display output showing how the buttons are mapped. If your mouse is set up to be left handed, the right MB should show up as button 1 and the left MB should show up as button 2. If you're using Firefox 2, your thumb button should be button 6 and the other side should be button 7. If you're using Firefox 3, these should be buttons 8 and 9 respectively.

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