How to use the Leap Motion as a mouse on Linux

Since the Leap Motion has arrived in the homes of the fans and the curious, it has drawn a lot of attention. But while the support on Windows platforms is at least acceptable, the Leap Motion is not very well supported on Linux systems.

At the moment, there is no official ready-to-use app for Linux which let’s you use the Leap Motion as a mouse on Linux.

But since the Linux SDK contains some nice examples for often used scripting languages, it was possible for some people to work on a way to use the Leap Motion as a mouse on Linux.

The new one – JLeap
A member of the Leap Motion forum called Sirik has found a very simple approach for replacing your mouse on Linux systems with the Leap Motion (see forum thread here: https://forums.leapmotion.com/showthread.php?3613-JLeap-JAVA-Control-for-Linux). In his first Java project “JLeap” he uses the legacy API to enable you to control the mouse cursor with the Leap Motion. It is not a very smooth experience, but you are able to see what is possible if the community drives the development of the Linux support for the Leap Motion. Unfortunately at the moment the JLeap does not support many gestures for OS interaction. But still an interesting project!
To run JLeap you should type: java -jar JLeap.jar

PyLeapMouse
A little bit more advanced and enhanced is PyLeapMouse, a GitHub hosted project (https://github.com/openleap/PyLeapMouse).
After running a Python Script and installing a few Python libs, you are able to control your mouse with the Leap Motion. It supports some OS interaction and really is worth a try.

To run PyLeapMouse, you should run: python PyLeapMouse.py

Both tools require the Leap libs from the SDK; simply copy them to /usr/lib and you are ready to go.

JLeap and PyLeapMouse both show that it is possible to implement OS interaction and gesture control on Linux. It is a shame that there is no such app from the Leap Motion team; however, I gained the feeling that they want the community to drive the development of the Linux support at the moment.

At this point I offer my sincere apologies for not showing any details or not posting a howto for the SDK and the two Linux tools as I would do it normally. You can read more details and howtos in the upcoming issue of the German Linux Magazine!

If you have created an awesome Leap Motion app for Linux and want to share the news please don’t hesitate and drop me a short mail. I will happily have a look at it!