Ralf Öchsner

Logitech MX Master on Linux

I recently upgraded my Logitech Performance MX mouse and bought it's successor the Logitech MX Master. Again I'm going to explore customisation options and write about my experiences here. I have only tested it on Ubuntu Linux (15.10 Desktop) so far, but it should work as well on all other modern Linux distributions.

What works out of the box

While the Performance MX only offered a connection via the included USB receiver the MX Master also has built-in Bluetooth Smart support. Another new feature is that the mouse can now be paired with 3 different devices such as computers, tablet and smartphones (an probably some Smart TVs two) at the same time. The connection between the devices can than be quickly switched by pressing a button on the bottom of the mouse.

  • connection via Logitech Unifying USB dongle (included in the package)
  • encryption of the wireless connection when connected via Unifying receiver
  • normal pointer operation
  • left, right and middle mouse button
  • back and forward button (for example in Browsers)
  • normal scrolling, hyper-fast scrolling, hybrid scrolling and switching inbetween the modes
  • side scrolling with the thumb wheel
  • USB charging and operation via USB cable (actually the cable doesn't replace the wireless connection, it only charges it)
  • switching between connections (Linux plays no part in it, the mouse does it on its own)

What doesn't work out of the box

  • pair/unpair devices with the Unifying receiver
  • Battery status information
  • connection via Bluetooth Smart
  • some Intel chipsets have WiFi problems when the mouse (or any other device) is connected via Bluetooth (no specific Logitech problem)
  • the big thumb button
  • guestures

Making it work and customization

Pairing and unpairing with Unifying receiver

For managing Logitech devices on Linux there is a tool called Solaar which has a command-line interface and a GUI. The GUI makes pairing/unpairing very easy and generally gives you also the information about the battery status of your devices. Luckily Ubuntu already has solaar in it's software repository which makes it very easy to install. You can either install it with the Ubuntu Software Center or on the commandline by entering the following:

sudo apt-get install solaar

When you start Solaar you will see a small green icon with a gear on it in your status bar on top of the screen. The tool lists your Unifying receivers and allows you to pair or unpair any Logitech Unifying device that you want to have connected to your PC.

Battery status information

While the Performance MX still had LEDs to indicate the battery status on the mouse itself the MX Master only provides battery information through the Unifying receiver. Fortunately Solaar shows the battery status for each connected mouse and also provides a battery icon for the Unity panel. For testing purposes I've paired the MX Master with the old dongle of the Performance MX as well as with the new one that shipped with the mouse and both worked perfectly fine.

Connection via Bluetooth Smart

There has been a huge confusion about the Bluetooth support of the Master MX on the internet. A lot of people claim to have problems with the mouse when connected via Bluetooth. Even on Windows and Mac OS X systems which are officially supported by Logitech.

The root of the matter is that the mouse doesn't support generic Bluetooth but only Bluetooth Smart which is also called Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Smart is an extension of the main Bluetooth standard which was merged into the Bluetooth 4.0 specification. The Windows Bluetooth stack only supports the Low Energy extension since Windows 8 while on Mac OS X the support was introduced from 2011 to 2013 depending on the device (Mac mini 2011, MacBook Pro and iMac 2012, Mac Pro 2013).

As far as my experience goes the Master MX works perfectly fine with Bluetooth Smart if your hardware and software has proper support for it. That means that your computer's Bluetooth module has to be a 4.0 device and your operating system's Bluetooth stack has to have the Low Energy extension implemented.

Ubuntu supports Bluetooth Smart since 15.10 and can therefore pair and connect with the mouse. Unfortunately there seems to be a bug with the implementation of the PIN-less pairing which prevents it from working when just paired with the Ubuntu Bluetooth tool. Luckily the fix for that is quite easy:

hciconfig hci0 sspmode 1
hciconfig hci0 down
hciconfig hci0 up

When you're using a different device then hci0 you have to replace it in the commands listed above. You can find out the name of your bluetooth device with the simple command:


The command will show you an output like this:

:~$ hciconfig
hci0:	Type: BR/EDR  Bus: USB
	BD Address: 00:1A:7D:DA:71:05  ACL MTU: 310:10  SCO MTU: 64:8
	RX bytes:694 acl:0 sco:0 events:50 errors:0
	TX bytes:3233 acl:0 sco:0 commands:50 errors:0

The first column contains the device name which in my case (and probably for most people's hardware) is hci0.

Some machines with an Intel chipset have WiFi problems when a Bluetooth device is connected. This problem can also happen with any other device than the Logitech MX Master. Intel WiFi/Bluetooth modules have a Bluetooth coexistence mode which should avoid exactly these problems but sometimes it seems to make things worse. If that is the case one should disable the coexistence feature which can be easily done by the following command:

echo "options iwlwifi bt_coex_active=N" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi.conf

After a reboot the WiFi problems should be gone when the mouse is connected at the same time. Since the coexistence parameter was designed to avoid Bluetooth / WiFi problems I recommend to only disable it if you really experience any problems with it.

To be continued...

At the moment I don't have enough time to write about making the rest work. However I will update soon, so check again later (last update 2016-05-07)!