Want to draw using your laptop touchpad on Linux?

A free, open-source app called FingerPaint lets you do just that.

While the tool (probably) won’t help you become the next Picasso it’s ideal if you want to add a signature to PDFs documents or emails, sketch out mathematical equations, or just doodle.

You need to run FingerPaint from the command line (there’s no app icon for it that you can click) and you need to specify an output (-o) file name or your drawing won’t be saved. This is easy to do, like so:

fingerpaint -o doodle.png

The “drawing” itself takes place in a small GUI window. This shows a real-time preview so you can see what you’re doodling. It’s ingeniously simple yet incredibly satisfying app to use:

fingerpaint screenshot from Ubuntu 22.04
FingerPaint (in dark mode) on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

When FingerPaint is active your laptop’s touchpad is NOT used to move the mouse pointer (external mice will, the developer says, continue to work fine). Instead, your finger becomes a paintbrush, and the width of your touchpad the canvas for your art.

Once you finish daubing you can hit any key or button to finish. Your drawing is then saved a transparent PNG image file that can send, upload, edit, etc elsewhere.

To change line color, adjust line thickness, or specify a background color to draw on, pass the corresponding flag when you run the app:

  • --line-color COLOR
  • --line-thickness NUMERICAL_VALUE (1-6)
  • --background COLOR
  • --dark for dark mode GUI

FingerPaint works with Xorg/X11 and any desktop environment, or GNOME with Wayland. That said, the tool didn’t work (for me) in the default Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Wayland) session. It worked fine in the Xorg one thus your milage may, as the saying goes, vary.

Install FingerPaint for Linux

You can install FingerPaint on most major Linux distributions using pip, the Python package manager. You may need to satisfy dependencies to get it to run so see the FingerPaint GitHub page for more details.

Alternatively, if you’re on an Arch-based distro — Manjaro posse make some noise, oi oi — you can install FingerPaint from the AUR for X11 or grab the Wayland versions separately.


In summary, FingerPaint is a deft, digit-based digital drawing aid that lets you doodle anything on your laptop’s trackpad using a finger. Ideal for impulsive illustrations or, more likely, signing documents digitally without needing any extra hardware.

Anyone for a game of touchpad Pictionary? 👉