Ubuntu Mate touchscreen not working Surface Pro 5th gen

Ive spent numerous hours now searching the intertubes, and this page looking for a fix for my new to me Surface Pro 5.

I planned on immediately switching to Mate with this, but slowed my roll long enough to run Mate live. When I did I found out that the touchscreen on the surface doesn't work at all. I found lots of stuff on the intertubes about ubuntu kernal and touchscreen stuff but I'm not sure if that translates directly to Mate which is the distro I want to use.
Such as this page. It says Ubuntu but how do I make it to Mate instead?

It seems that after 2 years there would be a better solution to the Microsoft hardware issues that seem to be causing touchscreen problems after Gen 4 surfaces?

Can I fix the touchscreen somehow inside of Mate?? I'm linux geeky but kernal stuff is out of my bailiwick. Everything else seems to work while running live, but I've absolutly got to figure out how to get the touchscreen to work or the purchase of this surface was moot and I'll be forced to run windows.

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Welcome @tjcarrell to the community!

Thanks! I'm a long time, although intermittent Ubuntu user, but I have really fallen for Mate.


Since, for this project, the kernel, the assorted tools and the installation instructions seem to be desktop agnostic (*) , it shouldn't matter at all which Ubuntu flavor you install. As far as I can tell, you could use this instructions with either Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu-MATE, Xubuntu, Lubuntu or whatever floats your boat. As long as it is a *buntu.

According to the instructions (specifically the second link you posted), it roughly comes down to one thing: Install your Ubuntu flavor first, add the linux-surface repository and then install the custom kernel and touchscreen drivers .

(*) Touchscreen gestures (touch scroll, pinch zoom etc) are only supported on the standard Ubuntu and Kubuntu as well (because Wayland) and only on supported apps.
For all other desktops: you still have the regular touch controls that emulate everything that you can do with the mouse, so yes, go for it.

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welllll wait up a minute

So in the regular ubuntu distro the touchscreen will work without all this extra work? I was understanding that microsoft changed hardware etc after gen 4 which caused it not to work on most distros?

I just like mate overall

Oh no no no! That is not what I wrote! And that is not how it works!

tl;dr Touchscreen needs custom kernel and driver, no matter what.

What you call "all this extra work" is exactly what is described here

In other words:

  1. You still have to make a bootable USB (tip: use 'disks' instead of 'rufus')
  2. You still have to use the bootparameter 'toram' to free up the USB port allowing you to disconnect the USB and plug in an external keyboard. (point 5 of the instructions)
  3. You still have to add the special repository
  4. you still have to install the custom kernel+driver.

You will have to do these things for whatever ubuntu flavor you install including the standard ubuntu. :slight_smile:

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ok ok sorry I misunderstood what I read in your previous.

Count on MS to make things difficult for the superior OS lol

Yes, it's called "Vendor lock-in" :grin: