[xubuntu-users] left Alt key not working in xubuntu 16.04 (mapped to some GUI volume control instead)

Richard Fromm richard_fromm at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 28 04:53:07 UTC 2017

I just installed xubuntu 16.04 and am trying to get basic setup working. I normally use Ctrl-Alt plus the arrow keys for navigating around workspaces -- and this appears to be the xubuntu (or xfce in general? not sure) default.

However, there appears to be something that's grabbing the left Alt key (and only the left one; the right one works fine), so that this doesn't work.

Any press of the left Alt key (even just by itself, before it modifies anything) instead brings up some GUI volume control near the upper right of the screen, and lowers the volume one notch.

Various things aren't even seeing the left Alt key at all. For example:

* in emacs, if I try describe-key, the keypress for the left Alt key isn't even seen (but the right Alt key is)
* xev *does* show a KeyPress event for it, but interestingly does *not* show a corresponding KeyRelease event (it shows both for the right Alt key)
* `showkey -a` doesn't even detect the left Alt key bring pressed at all (but it does for the right Alt key)

It's not just workspace navigation; that's just how I discovered it. Other things involving the left Alt key don't work; e.g. Alt-Tab to cycle windows works with the right Alt key, but not the left.

I can't figure out what the volume control is that it's mapped to. ps output doesn't show any new processes running when it appears, so it must be coming from some existing process.

I'm fairly certain that it's not some kind of hardware keyboard issue. It was working fine before I installed xubuntu 16.04 (previously this older box was running kubuntu 12.04, and I did a fresh install), and I've also used this keyboard just fine on a kubuntu 16.04 laptop.

There was one setting that I found that I was hopeful might be responsible. In Window Manager Tweaks -> Accessibility, there was a selection for "Key used to grab and move windows" that was set to Alt, and I tried changing it to None. But that didn't help.

Any help would be most appreciated. I suppose I could just try mapping all useful items that depend on the left Alt key to use the Windows key instead, but I have enough things ingrained in me from years of habit that depend on the left Alt key, it would be a hard habit to break.

I tried asking this about a day ago on #xubuntu, but there doesn't appear to be much in the way of real conversation there. I hope this cross posting isn't considered poor etiquette.

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