[CentOS] Multi-button mice and Linux? -- 3 button mice have always been *THE* standard

Bryan J. Smith thebs413 at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 10 22:23:08 UTC 2005

Preston Crawford <me at prestoncrawford.com> wrote:
> Does anyone here use a multi-button (as in more than 2)
> mouse with Linux?

The late '60s first "modern mouse" (a ball design driving
perpenducular axis) had 3 buttons.  In fact, the inventor was
so ahead of his time, he also invented the 5-chord keyboard
so you could input any keystroke without having to use the
QWERTY keyboard (unless you were typing at full speed --
which you wouldn't be using the mouse at the same time).

[ SIDE NOTE:  Imagine if he had established the 5-chord like
the 10-key numeric pad -- we wouldn't have all those varying
and non-standard gamepad controllers,. ;-]

The early '70s Xerox PARC Alto had 3 buttons.

And early '80s X-Window system begin with and still
_requires_ 3 buttons (even if you just emulate the 3rd button
with 2).  ;->

More recent X-Window releases have supported 5 or 7 buttons.

> How well supported are they?

I always scoffed in the early '90s when I plugged in a
Logitech 3-button to Linux and I instantly had full 3 button
support.  It wasn't until Windows 98 before Microsoft started
including 3 button support without having to load additional

> I've had to get one recently for work.

A 3-button mouse?  You mean you've been using 2-button mice?

> I was diagnosed with CTS and I now wear braces and use a
> wireless Intellimouse.

"Wheel" mice were easily adapted as 5-button mice.  Button 2
(3rd button) is when the wheel is depressed (just like any
3-button mice).  Button 3 and 4 (4th and 5th buttons) are
mapped as the up/down of the secondary Y axis (secondary to
the Y-axis in the ball/optical).

Most modern mice have native drivers in XFree86-4/Xorg-6.7
that can read variable rate and other, more "rich" feedback.

> Works great at work with Windows, but I'm unsure how much,
> if any support there is for Linux.

Intellimice will be recognized immediately in any modern
Linux distribution.  Not only for X, but for console (e.g.,
gpm) as well.

> Anyone have experience with this?

Been using 3 button mice in Linux since I started in 1993.  I
mapped buttons in X for a few 5 and 7 button digitizers
before  any wheel mice ever came out.

The X-Window system has always had extremely flexible input
options.  Especially since X is designed for
multiuser/multidevice (multiple input/output devices) on a

Bryan J. Smith                | Sent from Yahoo Mail
mailto:b.j.smith at ieee.org     |  (please excuse any
http://thebs413.blogspot.com/ |   missing headers)

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