linux on precision m4600: Dell should disclose ALPS API

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at
Wed Jun 15 11:15:14 CDT 2011

I purchased this m4600 by mistake.

If you search for "linux laptops", you see the precision line
is listed with RedHat

I don't want RedHat, I run either Debian or Gentoo linux, but I
ordered a precision with WIndows, figuring that I could remove Windows
and make it work.  But I can't suspend/resume or use the touchpad
properly.  I figure the suspend/resume part will get worked out by the
Linux community, it always does.  The touchpad thing is trouble

I contacted the precision support team, they say "Linux is not a
supported OS, we can't help you."  I asked how they run Redhat on
there, they said they do not, and the web ad is a mistake (if it is
wrong, why is it still up there 2 weeks later?).  Oh, well.

The touchpad part is a problem because nobody can get the required
information to program a driver. The community needs help from Dell to
get things right.
(  Dell adopted
this touchpad device "Dell Multitouch" that comes from ALPS.  We wrote
to ALPS go get programming information for the device, ALPS answers,
"you need to get that information from your vendor.".

You can patch the kernel alps.c file to stop the kernel from thinking
this mystery touchpad is a ps/2 mouse,

However, you still can't access the options for scrolling or
multifinger behaviors.

There are plenty of bug reports on this, all basically point back to
Dell saying we need information about this device.  The ALPS rep said
you can/should give the information.

============My ALPS correspondence ============

Dear Paul E. Johnson

Thank you for your inquiry.

We will respond in approximately 2 or 3 business days.
We appreciate your patience.

This message was automatically sent. Please do not reply to this message.


I Need linux driver for your touchpad device
that Dell is using in Precision M4500 laptops.
They call this "Dell MultiTouch" device, but
tech support says it is an ALPS thing.

All of the Linux distributions are struggling
with this device, and they all say they can't
fix it without help from you.  I started to
wonder if anybody had asked.

I afraid going to have to return this
laptop to Dell unless I can get at least *some*
hope that this touchpad can be made to work with
Linux. If you supply the code, that would be
fine, but it appears there are many people who
would do the code if you would make open the
programming interface for these touchpad devices.

========TO WHICH ALPS Responds=========

Dear Paul,

Alps Electric supplies Touchpad and Bluetooth hardware for various PCs and
other electronic devices.  Alps Electric sells it products to Original
Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and does not sell products directly to
consumers.    Alps' customers, the manufacturers, customize the software
and products for their particular requirements.  Therefore please obtain
software and support directly from the manufacturer or distributor.  If you
are having problems with your Touchpad or Bluetooth devices, please contact
the manufacturer or distributor directly for technical support.

Thanks again and best regards,
Joseph Lim
Customer Service Representative
Alps Electric (North America) Inc.
910 E. Hamilton Avenue Suite 500
Campbell, CA 95008
Direct: (408)361-6596
Fax: (408)226-7715

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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