I have problems with keyboards. I’m fussy. If I don’t get fussy, my wrists complain. So at work, I prodded and was duly presented with my choice of natural keyboards and I ordered a Microsoft one. Although I don’t particularly like providing such a huge company with money (I like supporting the little guy) this is a cracking good keyboard. The contact is firm and positive, not too loud, the layout is nice and you can elevate the -front- of the keyboard giving my wrists a far more natural alignment.

So when it arrived and I plugged it in, I was very happy…until I hit Alt-F2 which is the combination in KDE to bring up the “Run…” dialog box. Nothing happened. Hrm. Ctrl-Alt-F4 to try to change to a virtual terminal. Nothing. More frustrated attempts. Nothing. My F-keys didn’t work. And once I started fiddling, neither did the other keys, the “media” ones at the top etc. Damn. What’s going on here?

I’ll not go into too much detail (this Gentoo page on this specific device does that admirably) but it seems as though this keyboard is slightly odd on top of which the FreeBSD USB Keyboard driver has behaviour that clashes with it. So for those of you who find this via google and want to get your keyboard to work, someone has raised a bug report and attached a patch – it at least gets you back to the point where the F keys work – it will require compiling your kernel, though that’s not that challenging on FreeBSD.

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2 Responses to “Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and FreeBSD”

  1. Greg says:

    I just started using the Microsoft Natural Wireless Erg. 7000, and love it except for the lack of functionality of the F keys.
    Until I just found the “workaround”. I can’t speak for the 4000 version, but on the 7000 there is an “F Lock” key next to the F12 key that turns on normal functionality for all the F keys.
    Hope this helps others out.

  2. Aled says:

    Problem under FreeBSD with this problem is that everything north of the numbers doesn’t work without that patch, and even with it, the top row of special function keys and the F-lock itself don’t work.