Ubuntu help?
July 25, 2006 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I switched from Windows XP to Ubuntu one month ago. Everything was working perfectly well until this week, but now I am having keyboard problems.

I think this might have something to do with a system update that I installed this week, but since I'm a real Linux newbie, I'm not totally sure (hence this post.)

BTW, I don't want to switch back to XP; other than this, I have been really happy with the all-over improved performance of my machine since making the switch.

The scenario is this: I am working on a Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop. When typing I somehow activate caps lock, without actually hitting the caps lock key. Deactivating caps lock (hitting the caps lock key) doesn't have any effect, and I end up having to restart the machine.

I guess I can roll back the changes, but before I do that, I wanted to ask about it here. [& I have tried the forums, but I'm not finding the info I need.]
posted by lilboo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
KDE or Gnome?

Most likely you've simply turned on some weird keyboard layout - the Caps Lock key is actually "W" or something like that, so you hit it and can't turn it off because you're not pressing "W".

Go into the Control Center for KDE or Gnome, look for the keyboard layout setting, and make sure it is set to something reasonable for you. You don't need it to be set to anything if all you want is a basic U.S. 101-key or 104-key keyboard. If you want accents or non-English characters, you'll need to pick an appropriate keyboard layout.
posted by jellicle at 2:29 PM on July 25, 2006

Also have a look through /etc/X11/xorg.conf and check that you haven't set up some (or multiple) strange keyboard configurations in there.
posted by blag at 4:21 PM on July 25, 2006

As as fast workaround, try tapping the Shift key by itself, then the Ctrl key by itself. These are, I believe, the two most likely alternates for Caps Lock.
posted by flabdablet at 8:43 PM on July 25, 2006

You can always try to Ubuntu support forums.
posted by Leenie at 12:15 AM on July 26, 2006

I would definitely stress using distribution-specific support forums, as Leenie suggested. By far the best OS support I've ever seen has been community-driven support for open source distributions. (To be fair, there are some excellent Windows support forums as well, with people (strangers - just random volunteers) who will bend over backwards and devote hours to help get your problem figured out.)

Someone there will know if there was recently an update to ubuntu's kbd or some x.org configuration files, so they'll be able to rule out updates vs. an inadvertant configuration change. They probably won't expect any more technical knowledge from you than simply being able to supply the contents of specific configuration files they ask for.
posted by mragreeable at 7:34 AM on July 26, 2006

Oh, right, and temporarily, you can disable capslock altogether. (This makes it work like another Ctrl key.) Add this line to /etc/X11/xorg.conf, in the keyboard's "InputDevice" section:

Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps"

There maybe be a prototype line there already showing you where it should go. If you're not clear how to add that you can email me. If the problem persists after you do that... well, that would be interesting.
posted by mragreeable at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2006

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