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May 4, 2016

Fixing disabled TrackPoint after Mint 13 update

Yesterday I did a normal software update on a ThinkPad X200s running Linux Mint 13 (which is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS). After the update and reboot, the TrackPoint (belly button mouse) no longer worked. This made working with the GUI desktop nearly impossible.

Fortunately, Linux has several virtual text consoles that can be used to make repairs. I used Ctrl-Alt-F1 to switch to the first of these consoles. From there I tried doing a full upgrade, including a new kernel, using these commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo reboot

This didn’t fix the problem. After some searching, I determined that for some reason, the psmouse kernel module, which controls the TrackPoint, was not loaded. The fix was to switch to a text console using Ctrl-Alt-F1, as mentioned above. Then I loaded the module using this command:

sudo modprobe psmouse

After switching back to the GUI using Ctrl-Alt-F8, the TrackPoint started working again.

To make this fix permanent, as root (using sudo and a favorite editor) edit the file /etc/modules and add this line:

psmouse

This forcibly loads the module at startup. This didn’t used to be necessary, and it is not clear why it is now.