Getting touchpad scroll to work in VMWare Workstation

Shiny new Kubuntu 20.04 dev platform

So, I develop using NodeJS, and I use Windows. Anyone who uses both together and has used Linux as a dev platform has probably realized the Windows version is a little lackluster and has edge configuration issues that make it a pain.

So I was setting up a dev environment on an ESXi host so I could have one place in which I do my development and not have to switch back and forth between Windows and Linux platforms, deal with the painfully slow WSL, Windows ‘git bash’, etc. do everything native.

That was a great idea until I got it all set up and realized my touchpad wouldn’t scroll anymore.

Not just in the new Kubuntu dev VM, but everywhere! My Thinkpad’s touchpad literally would not scroll ANYWHERE, not in Ubuntu, not in Windows, nada.

I had just installed VMWare-tools 10.3.21 which as of June 2020 was still the latest edition at over a year old (surprising). However, there is a KB article in which VMWare recommends using the open-vm-tools package, which I had thought was an open-source knock-off, but through a little digging I found out it is actually an official release from VMWare that appears to have been open-sourced.


Thinking this might have contributed to my non-scrolling touchpad issue, I promptly uninstalled VMWare-tools and installed the open-vm-tools-desktop package.

To my surprise, my touchpad started scrolling again, both in the VM and in Windows.

So, as a PSA, anyone who’s experiencing this issue (maybe it’s a Synaptics-related thing?) try using the open-vm-tools package instead of VMWare-tools and maybe your touchpad will magically start scrolling again…

Genuine Lenovo Thinkpad T460S T470S Three button Touchpad Clickpad ...
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Author: Unixgreybeard

Recovering zfs evangelist and hardcore hardware hoarder. Love coding, scripting, data visualization, Unix-like operating systems (obviously), and long walks in the sunset. Previously resided: Oakland, SF, Tokyo. Now in Seattle. Don't forget to pour one out for my homies forked from OpenSolaris.

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