Sparkling gems and new releases from the world of Free and Open Source Software

Virtual pointer


Not so long ago, we looked at a keyboard firmware editor called Chrysalis. It was designed to work only with a few specific open source keyboards using the Kaleidoscope firmware, usually based on an Arduino, but these keyboards were definitely something to wish for. Thanks to Chrysalis and the open firmware, you could easily modify the firmware to suit your own needs, including adding a variety of plugins contributed by other users. These plugins could do things such as run macros from shortcuts, create one-shot special keys without pressing shift, or turn the spectrum of LEDs beneath the keys into a rainbow. One plugin, however, could imitate mouse control, not only letting you move the mouse cursor with whatever shortcuts you configured, complete with acceleration and start/end thresholds, but also warp the cursor to different quadrants of the display with a few other shortcuts. Brilliantly, the warpd project has been able to recreate the same behavior in software for any keyboard.

Really the combination of two ideas, warpd gives you quick and easy control over your mouse cursor from the comfort of your keyboard. The first is the aforementioned warping, which warpd confusingly calls Grid Mode. With this enabled, you use the u, i, j, and k keys to navigate to different quadrants of the display, highlighted within a red border. Successive key presses reduce the size of the quadrant so you can quickly jump from one side of the screen to the next, with the m, comma (,), and period (.) keys used to trigger a left, middle, or right click when you get to your target. There are two other modes, too. The first is called Hint Mode, which works like Vimperator in Firefox. With this enabled, the screen is covered with letters or keys you can press to immediately send the cursor to that location. It looks messy but is slightly more intuitive than Grid Mode. Finally, there's Normal Mode, which gives you keys for moving the cursor around manually with the old school Vim navigation keys. They all work brilliantly and can save you from repetitive strain injury and even from buying a mouse.

Project Website

Although you can move the mouse cursor with keys in KDE Plasma, warpd adds extra navigational modes that will work with any (non-Wayland) desktop.

Integrated development environment

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