A couple months ago I saw that support for the Apple Magic Trackpad 2 was being added to the 4.20 Linux Kernel. Once upon a time, around 2011 or so, I used the original Magic Trackpad as my daily driver for all my cursor manipulation needs. I found it really enjoyable and precise, particularly when it came to scrolling through code and reading lengthy articles, and recommended it often to people whenever they’d ask. Unfortunately, as time progressed there were some regressions in the Linux drivers that made it not work as reliably, and a veritable smorgasbord of odd Bluetooth behaviors and downright failures caused me to fall out of love, so I dumped it like a crappy prom date. I also hated having to keep putting AA batteries in it like a caveman (and yes, I know that you can buy rechargable ones - you’re talking to the one moron on the planet that bought the $29 Apple ones).
But with this new-found support, and easy access to the hardware thanks to one I had been using off-and-on at work with my MacBook Pro, I decided to give it another go. I installed the (at the time) beta kernel, monkied around with the configuration files (which I don’t think is required any more), and just like that, I was in trackpad heaven.
The Magic Trackpad 2 is a considerable improvement over the original in a number of ways. For one, this thing is big — damn big — and that’s a good thing. The surface area is dramatically larger, and navigating over the content is a dream. Doing three-finger and four-finger gestures is simple. Scrolling is a pleasure. The size is of course the main improvement. But it also has a lithium-ion battery that lasts for ages and charges via the lightning connector you’ve come to know and like well-enough from Apple. That said, aside from when I take it out to coffee shops or libraries (so basically never), I leave it plugged in directly over USB. Doing it this way bypasses all of the disappointing peculiarities of Bluetooth which are still, after lo these many years, a tremendous day-to-day pain. The new Linux driver thankfully supports both Bluetooth and hardwired USB modes, and can jump back and forth seamlessly.
One could probably complain here that it has taken so long to get support for the device in Linux, but it’s not any Linux developers’ fault. Apple has characteristically kept everything locked away and proprietary. As I understood it, a Google engineer with a particular love for the device reverse-engineered the driver and created a compatible open source alternative. God bless bored and frustrated engineers.
All of this is to say, if you’re a Linux user and are at all curious about it, I would highly recommend picking one up. It is now the device I use all day every day, and I have to say I’m really loving it.