Multimedia Keyboards and Linux

This is something I didn’t intend to do. When I bought my new keyboard I was after an ergonomic design to reduce the strain of typing. Any other features were a case of “oh um that’s nice”. But now I’m addicted.

I got a Microsoft Natural 4000 which is one of their ergonomic designs with a raised centre area that slopes away towards the sides. It has a front support which makes it slope towards the monitor too. It sounds all wrong. I’ve always had keyboards that went the other way. However it works and works well. It took only a short time to get used to the new position but it felt more comfortable straight away.

One day I was looking at all the other keys across the top and human nature being what it was I started poking at them. I was surprised to find some worked under Ubuntu. But only a couple, the mail and volume up and down seemed to be it. When I loaded Fedora I found the situation was the same with Gnome but nothing worked with KDE. I started to wonder why and did some research.

I found this site that talked about lineak. I found it is in the Fedora repositories and installed it. I followed the details he provided and found my keyboard was supported. Soon I had a few more keys working. The web/home and the search key still didn’t work but all the audio controls work with Amarok and the calculator key started kcalc. Even the forward and back keys worked with Amarok.

Following the info in that post I used xev to check the codes for the 2 keys that weren’t working and found the wrong codes for my keyboard was in the /etc/lineakkb.conf file. When I fixed that they started to work. The correct codes are 178 for the web/home key and 229 for the search key, it seems they changed during an upgrade to the design.

Using xev I also found that the Favourites keys do not report keycodes so they probably can’t be made to work.

What about negatives? Well there are a couple. It appears that lineak is not currently under development. There has been no new work for some time and no new keyboards are being added to the configuration. However it is easy to add your own, see the post mentioned above for details.

Second problem is it takes a while to load the configuration when booting up. This isn’t a major problem unless you reboot or close and open new sessions regularly.

There are some other options that I haven’t tried yet. Quirk seems to concentrate on laptops. Another option is keytouch which appears worth a look although it doesn’t support my keyboard (yet!?).

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2 thoughts on “Multimedia Keyboards and Linux

  1. it seems almost any keyboard can be made to work so you can have whatever you want.

    thanks for dropping by.

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