The Conventional Mouse

A conventional mouse, shown in Figure 15.7, is a device that's sized to fit in the palm of the hand. On its bottom is some sort of tracking mechanism—usually a ball that rolls against sensors that detect this motion, but sometimes an all-optical sensor grid. (I describe these technologies later in this chapter, in "Mouse Technologies.") On the top and sometimes on the sides of modern mice lie one or more buttons. Macintosh computers today ship with 1-button mice, but x86 PCs usually ship with 2- or 3-button mice. Some models include more buttons than this. Many modern mice include a scroll wheel in place of one button. This device can be spun like a wheel, and it's used to scroll text in windows. The scroll wheel can also usually be pushed like a button. If configured without special scroll wheel drivers, a scroll wheel works as a button in Linux, but the scrolling function isn't used. Even when used with special scroll wheel drivers, the scroll wheel requires configuration for applications or application types to use the wheel.

Figure 15.7 D

Mice vary substantially in design details, but the mouse shown here is typical of the breed.

Figure 15.7 D

Mice vary substantially in design details, but the mouse shown here is typical of the breed.

Part IV

The conventional mouse remains the most popular type of pointing device on x86 computers today. Most computer users are familiar with the operation of a mouse, and the mouse remains one of the most precise pointing devices available. Some criteria to consider when you purchase a mouse include

• Interface Serial, PS/2, and USB are the most common mouse interfaces. All work fine with Linux, although you might need to upgrade your kernel to use a USB mouse.

• Sensor technology As described shortly, mice use a variety of sensor technologies, and these have an influence on the mouse's performance.

• Resolution Generally measured in dots per inch (dpi), resolution refers to how far you must move a mouse to achieve a given motion of the mouse pointer on the screen. Higher resolutions translate into greater pointer movement for a given physical movement. Alternatively, the tracking of the mouse on the screen can be adjusted downward with higher-resolution devices, yielding greater precision. You might therefore want to favor higher-resolution devices, particularly if you need to use the mouse for high-precision activities like manipulating graphics images.

If you find that your mouse doesn't track quickly enough, you can use the xset m acceleration threshold command to adjust the mouse's speed. Set acceleration to an integral value of 1 or more to speed up the mouse, and threshold to a number of pixels moved before the acceleration "kicks in." This pair allows you to move slowly when you move the mouse a short distance, which can be handy when positioning an object precisely. At the same time, an increased movement can benefit from acceleration.

• Symmetry Some mice are symmetrical left-to-right, which means they're equally well (or poorly) suited for both left- and right-handed individuals. Others are shaped to fit a right or left hand. Left-handed individuals can have a hard time finding mice that are well suited to use with the left hand, because manufacturers often neglect the left-handed market.

• General ergonomics No two people have hands that are precisely alike. It's therefore best to try a mouse before you buy it. Does it fit well in your hand? Are there awkward bulges? Do the buttons take too much or too little effort to depress? Only you can judge these factors.

• Buttons X assumes that the mouse has three buttons. Because 2-button mice are so common, XFree86 includes an option to simulate the middle button when you simulta-

Chapter 15

neously press both buttons on a 2-button mouse. This action can be awkward, though, so I strongly recommend you buy a 3-button mouse for use with Linux. Additional buttons might or might not be useful, but require additional effort to configure in any event.

• Scroll wheel There's no reason to avoid scroll wheels for use with Linux, but configuring these devices requires extra effort.

• Cordless mice Some mice use infrared technology to operate without a cord. This can be convenient at times, but if your desk is cluttered, the infrared beam can be blocked more easily than a cord.

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