Support for multimedia/internet keyboards

Chris Warburton chriswarbo at
Wed Aug 15 10:55:31 UTC 2007

On Wed, 2007-08-15 at 11:54 +0200, Pascal De Vuyst wrote:
> Currently Ubuntu provides no out of the box support for the extra
> multimedia or internet keys on desktop keyboards.

I plugged one of these in (a Logitech wireless keyboard) and its
play/pause/etc. buttons all worked, volume buttons, calculator, email,
webbrowsing, etc. all worked fine. All of the function keys on my laptop
work too, all without any configuration (I wouldn't actually know how to
configure them without Googling anyway). I understand this is not
universal, but to say "no out of the box support" isn't fair to the
people who've obviously done a lot of work here.

> The problem is that not all keyboards generate the same X keycodes for
> the same multimedia/internet keys, these keys were added later to
> keyboards and every manufacturer could choose different scancodes. So
> there is no standard way to map these keys out of the box with a
> keysym. 
> To get these buttons working there are 2 possibilities:
> 1) Find out the keycodes with xev and map them to the right keysyms
> with xmodmap
> 2) Define a new keyboard model in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/inet
> which allows you to select the keyboard in Xorg configuration. 
> A detailed description on how to do this can be found on the gentoo
> wiki:

At LUGRadio Live there was some talk from some RedHat/Fedora people in
the power management BoF about a generic system for submitting keycodes
and things to a central store, so power-user types can try out all of
the buttons on their systems (the use-case discussed was laptops), then
this collected data could be put into an XML file in its own separate
package, able to be updated regularly without impacting anything else
(XML can easily be kept forward and backward compatible). Since I do not
know the applications and things involved in this (and therefore don't
know what to Google for) I am not sure of the implementation, or whether
Ubuntu uses it, but I am sure it is relevant.

> So my question to Ubuntu developers is:
> Should some keyboard buttons work out of the box in Ubuntu GNOME like
> they do in KDE? Or should keyboard models be added to xorg to make all
> the buttons work when selecting the right X keyboard model in GNOME
> Keyboard Preferences? 

I am sure this should be in Xorg rather than in a desktop system, since
then it will impact the most people with the least work.

> Perhaps it would be nice to set up some project and ask the community
> to provide their xmodmap files and create keyboard models from this
> that can be added to the xorg package in Ubuntu or sent to xorg
> upstream.

As I said I think RedHat engineers are setting up such a thing. Sorry I
can't give any links :(

Chris Warburton

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