Leave the Num Lock On! 12/14/09
I recently (finally) upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04 (I’ve always had issues with x.10 releases for some reason). Until the upgrade I wanted to remain with the LTS track, but (it seems) less developers are supporting it, hence the move. I’ve performed excessive numbers of installs of Ubuntu and various applications on test boxes, but they (obviously) were not my primary system, it’s important to note this, as ordinarily I did not notice a small annoyance regarding Num Lock. On my updated primary system, I noticed this issue immediately, when I tried to log in.
Here’s the rant… If I set the BIOS in my hardware, to turn on the Num Lock, then I’ve done so for a specific reason! For Ubuntu to keep turning it off when I log out, reboot or start up the PC – That’s just plain annoying. I did a bit of Googling to try and find if the issue is being addressed (I remember fixing it using numlockx, and will get to that shortly), but only found a few threads where developers were discussing the “how tos” and “maybe” of the issue. While I’m not a developer, by any stretch of the imagination, I do know that other OS’s accomplish this feat (of abiding by the BIOS num lock settings). So… Ubuntu, please abide by the BIOS settings (with regards to Num Lock).
However, for those of you who want to ensure the Num Lock is on, we can use the numlockx tool. There’s probably a ton of sites listing this and discussing it at great length, but for ease of reference, here are my notes from the last time I had to fix this issue:
Install numlockx via aptitude –> sudo aptitude install numlockx
Edit your desktop management settings (make SURE up BACKUP any important data you do not want to lose, just in case):
sudo gedit /etc/gdm/Init/Default
Add the following just above the statement (in that file), that says “exit 0″:
if [ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ]; then
Make sure you manually turn your Num Lock off, log out and log back in.
One thing I found was that during the log in, the Num Lock was on, as soon as I logged in, it turned off again. Grrrrrrrr…. My Bad! It worked properly on subsequent reeboots.
The Ubuntu Wiki for Jaunty says:
“System –> Administration –> Keyboard & Mouse –> Keyboard –>”turn on Numlock on Startup”
But… It’s not an option (Keyboard & Mouse) in my Jaunty (which I just installed as a clean install).
Maybe there’ll be a fix for this in 10.04? (I hope so).
Have a better solution? PLEASE let us all know.