Ubuntu 7.04 and Virtual PC 2007 – Mouse Issue Workaround (sort of)

Update: October 18, 2007 – Ubuntu 7.10 was released, the install for it is a bit more straight forward. If you haven’t installed 7.04 yet, I’d suggest giving 7.10 a try. Complete instructions here:

Update: A reader named John posted a link to a fix, see my post on May 17 (http://shrinkster.com/p2w) for full details. But keep reading this post, as you’ll need the info here to implement the fix. OK, thanks to a suggestion I saw on the Ubuntu forums, I found a workaround for the no mouse issue, of sorts. This won’t give you the mouse back, but it will let you use Ubuntu 7.04 using keyboard control.

First, let me take a second to explain what the issue is. There was a bug in the kernel code that affected many different distros of Linux. Apparently the kernel was not finding PS/2 style mice. Some work has been done and now most PS/2 style mice are now being found.

Except, sadly for the ones being emulated. Both VMWare and VirtualPC emulate a PS/2 style mouse, and are not getting found by the kernel. Remember, it doesn’t matter what type of mouse you have hooked up to the host box (I have two mice, a Logitech MediaPlay and Microsoft Travel mouse, both USB). It only matters what the virtual machine is telling the guest OS (Ubuntu), which is PS/2 style mouse.

OK, that explained let’s play with Ubuntu some. Fire up Virtual PC, then use the CD menu to either capture an ISO image or capture the CD Drive you have the Ubuntu Desktop disk in.

When the menu appears, select “Start Ubuntu in Safe Graphics Mode” by hitting the down arrow once and pressing Enter. If you fail to do this, you’ll get garbled graphics.

Once Ubuntu gets fully loaded, press the left ALT key plus F1 (Left ALT+F1, remember VPC takes over the right ALT). This should highlight the Applications menu. Press the right arrow twice to System, then down once to Preferences. Now press the right key once to get to Accessibility, then right again. Finally go down to Keyboard Accessibility and press ENTER.

[Picture of Ubuntu 7 menus]

When the Keyboard Accessibility Preferences window appears, you should already be on the “Enable keyboard accessibility features”. (You can tell you’re on it because of the little ‘dancing ants’ rectangle around it.) Just press the SPACE BAR to check this on, as you see below.

[Picture of Keyboard Accessibility window]

Now press the TAB key to get on the Basic tab. Press the RIGHT ARROW key twice to get the Mouse Keys highlighted.

[Picture of Keyboard Accessibility window]

Press TAB again to get to the “Enable Mouse Keys” and press the SPACE BAR to check it on. Now tab on down to the Close button and press ENTER.

What you just did was turn the numeric keypad into your mouse. When you press left (number 4 ), the mouse moves left, press the up arrow (number 8 ) mouse goes up, and so on. The angles work, pressing 7 (the home key on my keypad) moves up and to the left, for exampe. Finally, the number 5 key works as the mouse click.

One thing to be aware of, these only work with the numeric keys. It will not work with the standard arrow keys. Laptop owners with compact keyboards are in for a painful experience, you’ll have to hit NUMLOCK to activate the mouse, then turn Numlock off to be able to type letters again.

Well there you go, a way you can use Ubuntu 7.04 in Virtual PC 2007. Not the greatest solution, but might work for you until the kernel issue gets fixed.

I’d like to give credit where it’s due, in reading through the Ubuntu forums I saw someone suggest using keyboard accessibility to work around the no mouse issue. After playing with it some, I decided it was worth documenting and hence this post. I’d like to give credit but haven’t found the original post since then, so if someone happens to notice it in the forums please let me know so I can give credit for the idea to the original poster.


51 thoughts on “Ubuntu 7.04 and Virtual PC 2007 – Mouse Issue Workaround (sort of)

  1. Hi,
    I am no computer geek by any stretch of the imaginination, but I was shown UBUNTU yesterday by a friend of mine (who is into IT ) and have decided to partition my windows and use Linux and download UBUNTU so although it may take a while to understand I will be back to your site frequently. many thanks

  2. Well, it works. I’m a noob at Linux, but the network admin for a large church. Testing things out…native mouse features would be good. BTW, is there any vmadditions?

  3. the mouse trick isn’t so bad on a lappy, some allow you to hold the FN button and press the corresponding number key without having to turn on the number lock, like my Dell Xps 😉

  4. How can this be done on Kubuntu?
    I’ve managed to use Alt+F1, etc. to get to system settings but I can’t seem to select anything from that point on using the keyboard (seems to be a weakness of KDE).

    Is there any way accessibility options can be run from Konsole?

  5. Hi there,

    It’s rather strange it doesn’t work for me, even though I’m following your directions to the letter. I get the setting dialogs and everything, but the numeric keyboard just won’t move the mouse anywhere. It’s not the first set-back I’ve had with Ubuntu though :(.

    It’s all very strange since I’m using MS Virtual PC 2007 and 7.04 of Ubuntu, and my keyboard is a regular Logitech UltraX Media Keyboard. Any ideas?

  6. Me again: it just didn’t work before I had installed it to the virtual harddrive, for some reason. Plus now, DHCP connecting to the internet doesn’t work: if I set IP and everything from ipconfig in Windows, then Windows loses the connection. Hmm. Wonderful.

  7. For kubuntu, alt-f1, run command, mouse, then tab right right right tab space enter (or something along those lines)

  8. How do you apply the patch that John proposes?

    arcanecode >> Your link that should outline the steps is dead?

    – Crazy

  9. Sorry Crazy, for some reason the comment decided the comma after the p2w was part of the link. I edited the comment to put a space after the p2w, should work OK now. Thanks for the catch.


  10. thanks for the workaround ! Mouse is working… Now I wish that the scroll wheel worked. Got use to having that feature while in my browser… any hints ?

  11. I know the discussion is about ms virtual pc (2007) – just needed an alternative to all this hassle 🙂 . I had the same issues with graphics, mouse and keyboard drivers. Plus that MS VPC 2007 seamed a bit slow for my likeing, so I replaced it with InnoTek VirtualBox (also free), and runs like a charm. (didn’t have to boot in safe graphics mode, had mouse and keyboard right away) Plus I can allocate up to 128M to the Ubuntu graphics.

  12. This is the solution:

    Captured Live CD
    Press F6 to access the Boot Options line.

    Type i8042.noloop at the end of the line.

    Press enter to accept the changes and then press enter again to boot.

    Installed image
    At boot press the Esc key enter the grub menu screen.

    Make sure your kernel boot line is selected.

    Press e to edit the kernel boot line.

    Type i8042.noloop at the end of the line.

    Press enter to accept the changes and then b to boot.

    Once logged into Ubuntu, open the /boot/grub/menu.lst as root.

    Add i8042.noloop to the end of the kernel boot lines.

  13. Thanks so much! Your instructions are so helpful and I appreciate you posting this so quickly. Just got a new PC and install VPC 2007 and Ubuntu 7.10 on it and this helped me getting up and running quickly.

  14. I can’t use the mouse even though I start the Ubuntu 7.04 in safe graphics mode.and when i press ALT+F1 nothing happens.I need help asap!

  15. Probz – See my post on installing Ubuntu 7.10, the same instructions for it should work on 7.04. Link is over on the left under Top Posts. Specifically what you need is the i8042.noloop fix.

  16. To fsg:
    If you ever see this post, thank you very much for the note about “innotek VirtualBox”. I had never heard of it before, but it seems to be very well done. MUCH faster than Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, as well as more customizable, and I had no problems installing Ubuntu 7.10 (mouse works, graphics work, etc.).

    I am quite impressed.

  17. After I’ve entered the i8042.noloop, I press Enter and NOTHING happens.

    ALL other keys seem to work fine – arrows, F-Keys, but Enter refuses to do anything…..


  18. All,
    I am new to ubantu and VPC.At the install screen 6/7 I can only enter one password I can not go to the 2nd password field with tab or right arrow. Consequently I can not proceed with the install.
    Would be grateful if some one can help

  19. My friend has just set me up to use joy pad (Sony-like for comp) instead of the keyboard…Sadly he is just smilleing and doesn’t want to tell me how…I bet it’s something simple…

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