Logitech Marble Mouse

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Revision as of 14:41, 6 April 2011 by Danny8 (talk | contribs) (Scroll modifier)
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The Logitech Marble Mouse is a pointing device with four buttons and a trackball. It is also known as the Trackman Marble. The Marble Mouse is symmetrical, making it well-suited for use with either hand. Picture. Out-of-the box it doesn't scroll, but you can configure it to enable this.


No driver installation is required. Your system detects the Logitech Marble Mouse at system boot, or whenever it is "hot-plugged" into a booted system.

The Marble Mouse is treated like any regular mouse — you don't need to configure it. You'll probably want to, however, in order to enable scrolling or customize button actions.

Basic function

Hardware IDs for the Marble Mouse buttons remain constant, regardless of device configuration.

When no additional configuration is specified, buttons are mapped to these functions:

ID     Hardware Action     Result                
1 Large button left normal click
2 Both large buttons middle-click †
3 Large button right right-click
4 (not a button) -
5 (not a button) -
6 (not a button) -
7 (not a button) -
8 Small button left browser back
9 Small button right browser forward


∙ Both large buttons pressed simultaneously creates a middle-click.
∙ † The simultaneous click is enabled by a configuration directive. It requires Emulate3buttons.
∙ Terms middle-click and wheel-click are used interchangeably in this document.
Alternate-click may be used instead of right-click. Typically, this pops up a context menu.
∙ The result shown above occurs when no modifier key is pressed.
∙ A different result may occur when a modifier key such as Ctrl is held while a button is clicked.

ID     Hardware Action     Result                
4 Roll ball down move cursor down
5 Roll ball up move cursor up
6 Roll ball left move cursor left
7 Roll ball right move cursor right


∙ Cursor motion occurs when no modifier is used.
∙ A modifier used in conjunction with rolling motion may create an alternate result.
∙ "Modifier" refers to a key (such as Ctrl) or button (as in mouse button) being held while the trackball is rolled.

Template:Box YELLOW

Using the trackball in "wheel mode" can require some unusual gestures on the user's part. Using a wheel mouse, for example, you can resize the display font in your web browser using the  Ctrl + wheel_roll  gesture. With the trackball, this operation becomes  Ctrl + hold_button + ball_roll.


You may find it helpful to simply jump to the sample configuration and try it.

The configuration sections contain information which may not be of interest to you. Most Arch users will be using a modern version of the X server which requires udev hot plugging.

Buttons and trackball

After you locate the sample configuration file you may wish to alter it. You need only concern yourself with three or four setup lines.

Assigning buttons

You may want to assign new actions for button presses. This is done by setting positional parameters.

Values may be changed for buttons 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9. (Button 2 is simply a combination press of the two large buttons.) Do not alter parameters 4, 5, 6, or 7.

# This line makes the default button assignments.

Option "ButtonMapping" "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9"

One obvious reason to assign different button actions is to accommodate left-handed placement:

# This line switches the left and right large buttons, and nothing else. For left-handed user.

Option "ButtonMapping" "3 2 1 4 5 6 7 8 9"

Another reason to reassign is when you don't like the "normal" assignments — especially the small buttons.

The line below changes the button 2 action to browser forward. Parameter two (both-large-button click) is given value 9 for browser forward. The line below also reassigns both small buttons. We want them to emit middle-click. (Either button may be clicked separately.) Parameters eight and nine are given values of 2 for middle-click.

# Three buttons are given new assignments. For right-handed user.

Option "ButtonMapping" "1 9 3 4 5 6 7 2 2"

Parameters are positioned in numeric order. Parameters you might modify are 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9. Parameters 4, 5, 6, and 7 should be left alone; they correspond to trackball movements.

"Both-large-button" combination-click

As stated, button 2 is a simultaneous press of the two large buttons.

Experimentation shows, in the absence of a configuration directive, this action produces an indeterminate result. It appears to issue some command, but the result is inconsistent with my expectation of middle-click. Further, the result seems dependent on whichever object is foremost. It is inconsistent regardless. You need to enable the combination-click:

Template:Box YELLOW

This is sufficient to enable the default mapping of button 2, which is wheel-click.  See minimal configuration.

Scroll modifier

One huge limitation for the Marble Mouse is the lack of a scroll wheel or scroll ring. This limitation is overcome by assigning a scroll modifier: a mouse button which allows the trackball to perform scrolling. When the scroll modifier is held, the trackball scrolls.

Template:Box YELLOW

The default scroll setting uses the small button for scrolling — that's good, — but that same button also has a default "click" action that results in browser back. A better choice is middle-click. Middle-click corresponds to what you'd expect from years of wheel mouse usage.

Putting complaints aside (these are addressed by reassigning small buttons), you specify a button to be the scroll modifier:

Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
Option "EmulateWheelButton" "8"

# Button 8 is the small button on the left side, which works well for right-handed users.
# Button 9 is the small button on the right side, which works well for left-handed users.
# Button 2 cannot be assigned as the scroll modifier or "EmulateWheelButton".

Disable horizontal scrolling

A particular configuration line enables horizontal scrolling. You disable horizontal scrolling by commenting that line out.

# A hash mark disables a configuration line.

# Option "XAxisMapping" "6 7"

I use both scrolling directions, but some may find this restriction helpful. You cannot disable vertical scrolling in a similar fashion — not that you'd want to, anyway.

Right-side or left-side

Previous sections explain how to modify your configuration file for either left or right placement.

•  On occasion, you may wish to switch between left-handed and right-handed usage.
•  I do this when I feel the early signs of repetitive strain injury.

To switch to the opposite placement, I manually edit my configuration file and restart the X server. Comments in the file remind me which lines to change. You could devise a script to make switching more automatic, if you wanted to.

•  With Arch Linux, I prefer a lightweight or non-existent desktop environment running the Openbox window manager.

Other desktop environments may have widgets to simplify — or complicate, depending how you view it — switching between right and left. With Ubuntu 10.10, for example, you need only mark a box in the mouse control panel to effect a button switch.

(I must change my configuration file to get the proper scroll modifier assignment, however. Ubuntu also seems to ignore large button assignments in the configuration file.)

System-wide or per-user

Note: Section undergoing revision. Please jump to the sample configuration

If you want the configuration to be system wide, you can add this line to the InputDevice-Section.

Option "ButtonMapping" "1 8 3 2 9"

For a per-user-configuration you need to put this in your ~/.Xmodmap

pointer = 1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 9 10 11 12 13

or this in your ~/.xinitrc.

xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 9 10 11 12 13"

Xorg input hotplugging

Note: Section undergoing revision. Please jump to the sample configuration

Two expositions help you configure a trackball with buttons for click, middle-click, right-click, and scrolling. The first exposition uses Xorg Input Hotplugging; the second does not. Edit them to suit your preferences.

Add this entry to your /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier   "Logitech Trackball"
    MatchProduct "Trackball"
    Option       "ButtonMapping"      "1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 9"
    Option       "EmulateWheel"       "True"
    Option       "EmulateWheelButton" "9"
    Option       "XAxisMapping"       "6 7"

To learn more about the used parameters you should read the apropriate section in the evdev man page.

Without Xorg hotplugging

Note: Section undergoing revision. Please jump to the sample configuration

The mouse device entry in /etc/X11/xorg.conf should look like this:

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "Mouse0"
    Driver     "mouse"
    Option     "CorePointer"
    Option     "Device"             "/dev/input/mice"
    Option     "Protocol"           "ExplorerPS/2"
    Option     "Buttons"            "9"
    Option     "ZAxisMapping"       "4 5"
    Option     "XAxisMapping"       "6 7"
    Option     "EmulateWheelButton" "9"
    Option     "EmulateWheel"       "true"

The "Auto" option for "Protocol" works fine, too. Of course you can use the name you prefer as the Identifier, as long as it's the same you use as InputDevice in the Section "ServerLayout" .

Sample configuration

The sample configuration modifies and extends the basic function of the Marble Mouse.

In this example, either of the two small buttons may be clicked to send a wheel-click. Wheel-click means the same as "middle-click" here. In addition, one of the small buttons provides scrolling in conjunction with the trackball. Note that only one small button has the ability for scrolling, although both small buttons are able to wheel-click.

Finally, clicking both large buttons simultaneously sends the browser back event. There is no button to send browser forward.

ID     Hardware Action          Result (this configuration)      New assignment
1 Large button left normal click 1
2 Both large buttons browser back 8
3 Large button right right-click 3
8 Small button left  † wheel-click 2
9 Small button right  ‡       wheel-click 2


∙  Both large buttons pressed simultaneously results in browser back.
∙  Either small button, when clicked, results in middle-click.
∙  †  This small button allows trackball scrolling when held down. It is the scroll modifier.
∙  ‡  This button can be mapped for scrolling function instead. This button works
       better for left-side placement because it lies near the thumb of one's left-hand.
       Only one button can be assigned as the scroll modifier as far as I know.

Configuration file

The following lines are appended to Template:Filename.

This example is set up for right-hand placement. Horizontal scrolling is disabled as well.

#       - - - Logitech Marble Mouse Settings - - -
#       For the sake of comments below, a Logitech Marble Mouse has buttons
#       numbered from left to right: #1 (large), #2, #3, #4 (large). 

#       Preferred options for right-handed usage are:
#       Left to right:  #1=1,normal click  #2=2,middle-click  #3=2,middle-click  #4=3,right-click
#       Press button #2 (hold button while rolling trackball) to emulate wheel-scrolling. 

#       Preferred options for left-handed usage (saying 'alternate-click' instead of 'right click'):
#       Left to right:  #1=3,alternate-click  #2=2,middle-click  #3=2,middle-click  #4=1,normal click
#       Press button #3 (hold button while rolling trackball) to emulate wheel-scrolling.

#       The trackball can scroll in two-axes, unlike a typical wheel mouse. Adjust the
#       settings to constrain the scroll action to vertical-axis-only if you prefer.

#       Pressing both large buttons simultaneously (b) produces a "back" action (=8). Finally,
#       pressing and holding button #2 while rolling the trackball emulates wheel-rolling action.

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier  "Marble Mouse"
        MatchProduct "Logitech USB Trackball"
        MatchIsPointer "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Driver "evdev"
#       Physical button #s:     1 b 4 - - - - 2 3    b = 1 & 4 simultaneously;   - = no button
        Option "ButtonMapping" "1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 2"
#       Option "ButtonMapping" "1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 2"   #  For right-hand placement
#       Option "ButtonMapping" "3 8 1 4 5 6 7 2 2"   #  For left-hand placement
#       EmulateWheel refers to emulating a mouse wheel using Marble Mouse trackball.
        Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
#       Option "EmulateWheelButton" "8"              # Factory default; use "9" for left-side placement.
        Option "EmulateWheelButton" "8"
#       Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
        Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
#       Option "XAxisMapping" "6 7"                  # Disable this for vertical-only scrolling.
#       Option "XAxisMapping" "6 7"
#       Emulate3Buttons refers to the act of pressing buttons #1 and #4
#       simultaneously to emulate a middle-click or wheel click.
        Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
#       Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"              # Factory default.

Restarting X

Changes made to Template:Filename do not take effect until the X session is restarted. To restart the X session, logout from your window manager and log back in.

Users of other Linux distributions may find the configuration file in another location. Ubuntu 10.10 uses Template:Filename.

Minimal configuration

At times it can be useful to start with the absolute minimum and build from there. This is one facet of The Arch Way. In this spirit, I decided to see how few lines I might use to create a usable Marble Mouse configuration.

You can omit all configuration lines and the Marble Mouse is still usable for basic pointing and clicking. However, it won't be able to scroll. Further, the "both-large-button" simultaneous click produces indeterminate results — experimentation shows this.

Given that you're satisfied with default button settings and you wish only to enable scrolling and the "both-large-button" click, you need these lines. The following lines are appended to Template:Filename.

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier  "Marble Mouse"
        MatchProduct "Logitech USB Trackball"
        Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
        Option "EmulateWheelButton" "8"
        Option "XAxisMapping" "6 7"
        Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"

Additional tweaks

Console (gpm)

See Console Mouse Support for details. Within the console you can use gpm with type option set to imps2. Edit Template:Filename such that:

GPM_ARGS="-m /dev/input/mice -t imps2"

This lets you use the large left button for selecting text and the right button to extend the selection. The small left button acts as a middle-click; it pastes the selection.

Chromium browser

By default, this browser does not utilize middle-click or wheel-click for page scrolling (automatic or otherwise). You must enable the scroll modifier for your Marble Mouse (of course), and also install a Chromium extension before using the trackball for scrolling web pages.

A browser extension named AutoScroll corrects the browser deficiency. (This extension is helpful for any Linux user with a wheel mouse.) Be sure to install AutoScroll;  the similarly-named Auto Scroll implements a different feature.

This information also applies to the browser called Google Chrome.

Firefox browser

Older versions of Firefox map horizontal-scrolling hardware to perform browser back and browser forward navigation.

This makes vertical scrolling using the trackball almost impossible.
The slightest horizontal motion triggers a URL redirection. To fix this:

  • Enter about:config in the location bar
  • Find the internal variable named mousewheel.horizscroll.withnokey.action. Set its value to 0.
  • It may be useful to set mousewheel.horizscroll.withnokey.numlines to 1 as well.

Further reading

Arch wiki documentation: Get all mouse buttons working
Arch wiki documentation: Description of 10-evdev.conf
Marble mouse scroll wheel:      Replacement for SetPoint driver
Joe Shaw blog post: Linux input ecosystem
Ubuntu community: Logitech Marble Mouse
Chrome web store: AutoScroll extension