Recently my wife was using my Lenovo G530 (running Ubuntu Linux) in the living room and somehow managed to disable the trackpad. She could not recall pressing anything unusual. This particular laptop has a little blue light that glows in between the two trackpad buttons with an icon indicating that the light means that the touchpad was disabled. Great, so the built-in feedback that the laptop had was working correctly, but how did we get the laptop in this state? At the time we had a friend over, so I just pulled out a spare mouse rather than attempt to solve the problem.
The next morning I expected that, upon restarting the laptop, the trackpad would be functioning correctly. There are many bugs in the computer world that can be resolved with a system restart. But that didn’t work this time. The touchpad continued to have no influence over the cursor on the screen.
I then proceeded to search the web for more information about this touchpad-disabling bug either associated to the Lenovo G530, to the particular version of Ubuntu that I was running or to a combination of the two. I found several listings but they mostly had to do with the touchpad being completely unavailable after a recent operating system install or upgrade. My touchpad had worked perfectly including horizontal and vertical scrolling until this recent change.
Well, after an hour or so of casually poking around the internet I discovered an important, but rarely noticed touch-sensitive button next to some touch-sensitive volume controls that I almost never use:
Sure enough, touching that quasi-button re-enabled the touchpad. My wife had apparently touched it accidentally when trying to increase the volume. All I could do was laugh at my stupidity. And be a bit delighted that Linux so completely supports the hardware on my laptop.