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Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:20 am UTC
by Jorpho
So I have an old Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop that, suffice to say, has taken a rigorous pounding, and the touchpad doesn't work. It was working at one point, but then I lent it to someone else and somewhere along the line, for reasons to which I am quite oblivious, the touchpad stopped working.

There is no sign of it whatsoever in Device Manager (it's running Windows XP). Everything in Device Manager looks perfectly fine, in fact, but there's no evidence of the touchpad's existence there, or in the Mouse control panel. I tried downloading and installing the driver from http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/ ... erId=KH5F6 , to no effect.

Ordinarily this is where I would suggest firing up a live Linux distro and seeing if the touchpad works there, so I booted up Knoppix 7.4.2 off a USB stick. The touchpad remained unresponsive.

I'm kind of out of ideas here. Googling around suggests some kind of driver nuttiness could be to blame, but I'm actually tempted to try taking the keyboard off ( https://youtu.be/eZrld0BVqFc?t=141 makes it look pretty simple) and checking if the cable is still connected.

Is there some other diagnostic method I could try? Googling also suggests that Linux support for the touchpad is spotty; if Knoppix just doesn't have the drivers, is there a live distribution that might?

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:30 am UTC
by phlip
Honestly, I think Occam's Razor is currently pointing towards something being broken in the hardware. Could be a broken connection, or it could just be dead. Seems more likely than software troubles at this point, given what you've tried so far...

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:51 pm UTC
by Xanthir
Yeah, I'm leaning towards hardware trouble too.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:18 am UTC
by Jorpho
Okay, I got the keyboard off and tried unplugging the touchpad and plugging it back in again. The cable looked a little kinked, but there were no obvious signs of damage. The problem remains unchanged. I wouldn't be about to order a replacement module without first knowing if there was something wrong with the motherboard – but it would probably be impractical to replace such an aging unit anyway.

I have no idea what sort of connectivity these things use. Is there some way to probe the appropriate whatsit in Linux and find out if it is functioning at all?

I was kind of hoping there was some brazenly-obvious physical-disable switch that I didn't know about, but that would be too easy.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:35 am UTC
by cyanyoshi
I have a Dell Inspiron from a few years back that has a button on the keyboard that turns the touchpad on and off. It is on the top row of the keyboard, next to the Insert key.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:27 am UTC
by Jorpho
If there's anything like that, it sure isn't labelled. The keyboard is pretty much as it is in the video I linked to in my first post.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:34 am UTC
by cyanyoshi
It looks like you don't have that button after all. Sorry. Just to be 100% sure, here is a link to my keyboard's layout. That button to the left of Insert is what turns the touchpad on and off.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:36 am UTC
by Jorpho
I got excited when I thought to ask, "Do the media buttons on the front of the laptop still light up?" But yes, actually, they do, so apparently the palmrest module as a whole is still connected. If there's a hardware disconnection somewhere, it must be more subtle.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:29 pm UTC
by DavidSh
Have you looked in the BIOS? Sometimes hardware can be enabled/disabled there.

Re: Diagnosing a Dead Dell Inspiron Touchpad

Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:51 pm UTC
by Jorpho
I could find nothing in the BIOS that suggested the touchpad existed either.

...This does prompt the question of whether there is supposed to be something in the BIOS, but I can't seem to find anything on Google about what is or is not supposed to be in the BIOS on this particular model. Can you?