This guide shows you how to set up and use GPM (the General Purpose Mouse server) from within a command line interface. This is especially useful for new Gentoo installations or for systems that cannot or do not use an X server.
If you've just installed Gentoo, you almost certainly don't have your mouse set up to work within a command line interface (CLI) yet. Or perhaps you can't use or don't need an X server, yet you still need to use a mouse. The solution is simple:
gpm, the General Purpose Mouse server.
First, you will need to get GPM:
You might have noticed a few messages during the compilation that warned about configuring the server. You must do this before starting GPM.
Before you can use GPM, you will need to uncomment the lines corresponding to the location and protocol of your mouse. You do this by editing the GPM configuration file:
In the next example, we have a USB mouse on /dev/input/mouse0. So, we uncomment /dev/input/mice, as this is the cumulative device for all mice on the system, and the appropriate protocol. Try using /dev/input/mice before /dev/psaux, as the latter is deprecated and can be disabled in more recent kernels. If /dev/input/mice fails, then fall back to other devices. Here is the example /etc/conf.d/gpm:
If you have a wheelmouse, you will want to use the imps2 protocol, so uncomment that line. If imps2 and ps2 both fail to work for you, please refer to the GPM info page (
info gpm) for other protocols to try. Also, if you want to be able to click on hyperlinks in terminals to navigate to a website, it is a good idea to follow the suggestion in the /etc/conf.d/gpm file:
The rest of the conf.d file contains other suggestions for your mouse server; uncomment the various options according to your needs. See
man gpm for more information.
Now that your mouse server is installed and configured, it's time to start using it:
You should see a block cursor appear. Remember that only root can run the GPM init script. However, to avoid having to
su and run the script every single time you begin a new session, why not set GPM to begin every time you turn on your computer?
Now, whenever you start your computer, you'll be greeted by the console cursor by the time you get to the login prompt. The mouse server will continue to run even if you're not logged in as root.
Working with GPM
Copying and pasting
Copying and pasting large blocks of text with a working mouse server is very easy. Simply highlight the text with the left mouse button (it will stay highlighted when you release the button), switch to a different terminal if you wish, position the cursor, and press the middle mouse button to paste the text where you placed the cursor. Note that you can copy and paste without ever leaving the terminal you started. This makes posting the output of error messages to the Gentoo Forums extremely simple.
Text-mode browsing and GPM
If you have a message on one screen and a text-mode web browser on the other, you can copy the error message by highlighting it, then change to the other terminal, left-click the appropriate text entry box to select it, and then press the middle mouse button. Your error message can now be posted to the forums.
Though discussion of text-only browsers is somewhat beyond the scope of this guide, inevitably users will need to find a compatible console browser. Though
lynx is most likely the oldest and well established browser, its interface has poor mouse support and recognition. Instead, try using
links which has excellent mouse integration.
This concludes the guide to using a mouse within the console. Happy mousing!
We would like to thank the following authors and editors for their contributions to this guide:
- Joshua Saddler