I recently installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my old Dell Latitude D800. I had not used that machine in a couple of years, and I had forgotten about a few hardware issues that it had. One of the most annoying issues was the “drifting” pointing stick.
According to a number of posts I found when searching for solutions to the problem, the drifting pointing stick issue is a common one on many Dell models. It causes random and erratic mouse movement, making it nigh impossible to operate a graphical interface. I got around the issue when I was using this machine full time by disabling the pointing stick using the Windows driver for the ALPS GlidePoint. Unfortunately, the system preferences offered by Ubuntu do not have an option to disable the pointing stick.
I found a post on the Ubuntu forums from a user who had a similar problem to mine. A responder mentioned that he removed the keyboard and found that the pointing stick had its own leads that could be disconnected. I searched for the Dell support document that matched my model and decided that I, too, could remove my keyboard and disconnect the pointing stick.
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of my machine when I had it opened. However, it is very easy to remove the keyboard by following the instructions in the support document. Once the machine was open and the keyboard removed, I just ripped off the leads from the pointing stick where they attached back to the keyboard connector. To be safe, I taped the loose end with electrical tape. After I replaced the keyboard, the trackpad and keyboard both worked fine and were not marred by the erratic mouse movement that was caused by my pointing stick.