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imwheel: Using Your Scroll Mouse in Linux

imwheel is a program that allows you to scroll in most applications with your scroll mouse. It is started as a process after starting X Windows. Note: imwheel 0.9.8 and below have a security hole and must be patched. This only affects those have the SUID bit turned on for imwheel. See below for instructions on patching. Also note, this will not work if you have turned on the emuulate 3 buttons feature. If Emulate3Buttons is activated, the scroll mouse will not work and X Windows will probably freeze.
imwheel Installation
RPM Version

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This version from RedHat has the security patch included.

  1. Download from RedHat PowerTools
  2. rpm -ivh imwheel-0.9.8-1.i386.rpm
  3. Follow the post-installation instructions to configure your X Windows mouse settings.

TAR Version

  1. Download from imwheel website
  2. tar -xvzf imwheel-0.9.8.tar.gz
  3. Download security patch from imwheel website
  4. gunzip imwheel-0.9.8-security.patch.gz
  5. Copy util.c into a directory called imwheel-0.9.8-old as written in the security patch file
  6. Modify second and third lines to match the directories your two util.c files are in. Note: to use the -p0 switch of patch, you must give it the full path to the files.
  7. Apply patch with command patch -p0 < imwheel-0.9.8-security.patch
  8. cd imwheel-0.9.8
  9. ./configure
  10. make
  11. make install
  12. Follow the post-installation instructions to configure your X Windows mouse settings.


  1. Make sure Emulate3Buttons is NOT activated. This is configured in your XF86Config file. The # mark is used for commenting. Your configuration file should look like this:

    # Emulate3Buttons
    # Emulate3Timeout 50

  2. In your XF86Config file make sure you are using the IMPS/2 protocol for a PS/2 mouse or IntelliMouse for a serial mouse.
  3. You must have the line ZAxisMapping 4 5 under the Pointer Section of the X Windows configuration file. In other words, your XF86Config file should look like this under the Section "Pointer":

    Section "Pointer"
    Protocol "IMPS/2"
    Device "dev/mouse"
    ZAxisMapping 4 5

  4. Restart X Windows if you had to modify your configuration file.
  5. Start X Windows with the startx command.
  6. As root, run imwheel after X Windows is started or follow the advanced instructions to run imwheel automatically when X is started.

Advanced Configuration
Each time imwheel is started, it appends the file /tmp/ with the current process id (pid). However, it must have the proper permissions to write to this file. The owner of the file is the user who first starts imwheel and creates the file. Thus, if root is the first user to start imwheel then /tmp/ will be owned by root and by default no one else can write to the file. You can work around this a few ways. If you are the only user on the system, change the owner of the file to your user and make sure you have read and write permissions to it. Root will also have permission to write to this file if you need to run it as root. If there is more than one user on the system you want to give access to imwheel, change the permissions to the /tmp/ file where everyone can write to the file. You can get even more complex and define a group of imwheel users and change the group permissions of the file to read and write.

The installation of imwheel should have created the script /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/imwheel. Every script in the /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d is executed when X starts. Thus, this script and with the proper permissions to the /tmp/ your scroll mouse should work automatically each time X is started, and you will not have to execute imwheel as root each time you start X.

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