mouse side button mapping

For years I’ve wanted to get the side buttons on my mouse working. I’ve
spent the better part of the evening again going through numerous results
online detailing how to get the back/forward functions to work in Firefox.
How does one get the buttons to do anything else? Let’s say I’m interested
in using them to switch between desktops. Is it possible? I’ve tried editing
xorg.conf and installing imwheel, but I’ve had no success (not even with
getting Firefox to go back and forth). I feel like less of a man than my
mouse after being so unsuccessful with this year after year.

Try xmacro and xbindkeys together. You can set mouse buttons or keyboard keys.
Both websites have pretty good instructions (google both)