I had disabled the touchpad on my Toshiba notebook via the BIOS and wasn't really concerned with using it, as I usually have my mouse close at hand. However, since I'm traveling much more often now, I had whipped my notebook out in an airport to check email and didn't feel like digging the mouse out, too. Forgot I had disabled the touchpad. Duh!
On the Windows side of the notebook, the touchpad is disabled as soon as the mouse is plugged in. However, there's no such option right now on the Linux side (something to dig into later!). Soooooooo, how to disable the touchpad without booting into the BIOS everytime I need it?
The instructions that follow are for a Synaptics touchpad. They may give a clue on how to proceed if yours is different.
cp /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/20thirdparty/11-x11-synaptics.fdi /etc/hal/fdi/policy/11-x11-synaptics.fdi
Now we need to add the instructions to the file that allows us to turn the touchpad on and off.
Using your favorite text editor, edit /etc/hal/fdi/policy/11-x11-synaptics.fdi and look for the section that starts with <match key="info.product" contains="Synaptics TouchPad">. Add the following at the end of that section:
<merge key="input.x11_options.SHMConfig" type="string">On</merge>
Restart your machine so the changes take effect.
The following can now be typed (as root) at the cli:
Edit -- You can create a quick script, make it executable, then toss it in your /home/loginid
/.kde/Autostart directory to have this run each time you start the machine.