Alt key stopped working...then working again

ksiu

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Hi
Strange thing just happened. I had a script running before I went to dinner. It was a simple script to record the battery watt usage. Anyhow, I left the laptop running (Lenova T440P), and when I came back from dinner about 3 hours later. I tried to fire up firefox, but realized both Alt keys are not working. Every other keys seem to work fine. I am using DWM, and the Alt key controls everything in DWM. Without Alt key, you cannot start a problem. So I ssh into my laptop from my phone, and rebooted. After reboot, both Alt keys are still not working...not even in console mode. So I started typing this message. Then all of a sudden, both Alt keys are working again.
Very bizarre. But by the time I finished this message, my both Alt keys are again not working. I noticed the last time it was working I had to hit the Alt key 3 times before it responded correctly.

I have been using Freebsd for a few weeks, and this is first time I have issue with the keyboard.

Code:
$ uname -a
FreeBSD t440p.localhost 12.2-RELEASE-p4 FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE-p4 GENERIC  amd64
 
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ksiu

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well this morning, the Alt keys are again not working.

could this be a hardware problem?

a new keyboard?
 

richardtoohey2

Aspiring Daemon

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Not something I've ever seen, so maybe hardware - keyboard, BIOS?

Any software that might be looking for special key combinations and then acting on that? I can't THINK of anything that would turn off Alt keys but maybe you've got something that means 3 taps turns them off and 3 taps turns them back on?
 

richardtoohey2

Aspiring Daemon

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Not tried changing the MODKEY e.g. https://dwm.suckless.org/customisation/windows_key/

When you say the Alt keys are not working - is that in Firefox or anything?

If you reboot to a live CD for example, do they work there? If they are consistently working under a live CD then not likely to be hardware.

Can you plug in a USB keyboard to eliminate the keyboard as an issue?
 
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ksiu

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Not tried changing the MODKEY e.g. https://dwm.suckless.org/customisation/windows_key/

When you say the Alt keys are not working - is that in Firefox or anything?

If you reboot to a live CD for example, do they work there? If they are consistently working under a live CD then not likely to be hardware.

Can you plug in a USB keyboard to eliminate the keyboard as an issue?
yes. Alt keys dont work on anything, not Foxfox, not DWM, not VLC. I also switched to OpenBox WM, and Alt keys also don't work in OpenBox. And, Alt keys also dont work in console mode. While in console, I cannot Alt-F2 to switch to second console, for example. Oh no!

I have used Manjaro OS in the past, and I still have its USB-installer. So, I plugged the USB and rebooted.
After getting into the Manjaro desktop, I opened up a PDF viewer program to test the Alt keys. I found the Alt keys also don't work in Manjaro.

So, this seems to be a problem deeper than the OS. I don:t know what to do next. But the Alt keys are important. I use Alt-Tab all the time to switch between windows.
 
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ksiu

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I took out the keyboard, and inspected the ribbon cables. They look clean. I reinstall the keyboard.

Same problem, no Alt keys.
 

richardtoohey2

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If you are getting the same results from a bootable USB OS, then yes, not likely to be an OS problem.

Have you got a USB keyboard to try?

Worth going through the BIOS settings to see if anything (doesn't seem likely!) Any odd switches on the case (again, NOT likely!) e.g. like a Wifi kill switch but one that might affect the keyboard? Any odd-function key combos?
 

richardtoohey2

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This is NOT exactly what you are seeing, but is there anything maybe like this for Lenovo? https://support.lenovo.com/nz/en/solutions/HT103044

This link is about the FN keys and talks of Hotkeys - so maybe something else like that to do with Alt keys?

It wouldn't explain why they come and go (unless you are accidentally turning some mode on/off with some other keystrokes).
 
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ksiu

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If you are getting the same results from a bootable USB OS, then yes, not likely to be an OS problem.

Have you got a USB keyboard to try?

Worth going through the BIOS settings to see if anything (doesn't seem likely!) Any odd switches on the case (again, NOT likely!) e.g. like a Wifi kill switch but one that might affect the keyboard? Any odd-function key combos?

Yes, I have a USB keyboard. It is old. I plugged it in, and FreeBSD automatic recognized it as a Logitech keyboard.

This USB keybaord's Alt keys working properly!

But my Thinkpad's Alt keys still don't work. :(
 

richardtoohey2

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Have a rummage in the BIOS settings to see if anything at all to do with the keyboard but otherwise it does seem like hardware if happening under Linux and FreeBSD.
 
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ksiu

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BIOS does have option to switch the Ctrl and Fn keys.

But, I don't see anything in BIOS that has to do with the Alt keys.

Well, checking the prices on a new keyboard. It's not too expensive.

I hope it's just the keyboard, and not something bigger like the motherboard.
 

sidetone

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One thing that made certain keys not work on mine, was enabling different HID USB drivers. Turning that off, made those special keys work for me consistently. sysutils/iichid conflicts with the base uhid(4) driver. Perhaps sysutils/uhidd too. It could be a script which checks the batter that acts like this too.

It could also be the keyboard layout in rc.conf.


But, after reading again, it looks like it's the keyboard. Dirt or damage between keys.

It could simply be the keyboard batteries.
 

vigole

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Yes, I have a USB keyboard. It is old. I plugged it in, and FreeBSD automatic recognized it as a Logitech keyboard.

This USB keybaord's Alt keys working properly!

But my Thinkpad's Alt keys still don't work. :(
What about these keys A, Z, Q, 1, and TAB? I had & have similar problem with Lenovo.
On FreeBSD & other OSs. I'm using external keyboard thus it's not a problem after all.
Here's the routine: those keys don't work for few minutes after reboot -- occasionally!
 
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ksiu

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What about these keys A, Z, Q, 1, and TAB? I had & have similar problem with Lenovo.
On FreeBSD & other OSs. I'm using external keyboard thus it's not a problem after all.
Here's the routine: those keys don't work for few minutes after reboot -- occasionally!
All AZQ1 and TAB keys work properly on my Thinkpad keyboard.
 
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ksiu

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I am ordering a new keyboard. But I still find it hard to believe that both Alt keys broke at exact same time. So, I am mentally preparing myself for the new keyboard won't fix the problem. And I don't know if the local laptop repair shop will work on non-MS/Mac machines. I guess worst case scenario is that I learn to live without Alt. And when I absolutely need Alt, I can plug in the USB keyboard.
 

chrbr

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Dear ksiu,
man be you can live with xmodmap(1) which can be used to change the key assignment in X. You can even mimic mouse activities with that tool. Please use xev(1) to get the key information. Then put somthing as below in your .xinitrc.
Code:
xmodmap -e "keycode  90=Alt_L"
xmodmap -e "keycode  91=Left"
This is from a different machine. It could be the "0" of the numbers block which is replaced by the keycode of the left ALT key. The keycode 91 belongs to the next key of the numbers block. On that machine I use that as an easy replacement for ALT LEFT for navigation in the browser. With one line you could assign the keycode for ALT_L to the windows key as a work around.
Kind regards,
Christoph
 
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ksiu

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anyone know how to test the Alt keys in FreeBsd's LiveCD?

i booted with the USB stick's Live CD. I am in as root, but theres no graphical program like Firefox that I can test the Alt keys.

i use vi. Alt keys seem to do nohing in vi.
Does vi respond to the Alt keys?

how test Alt keys in Live CD?
 

richardtoohey2

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If you've booted to the Live prompt - then Ctrl-Alt-F2 should switch you to another tty - ttyv1.

Or if you login, you can do "ex".

If you press left-Alt-a you should see "^[a". If Alt isn't working, you'll just get "a".

To quit ex remove anything you typed and enter "quit" and Return.
 

Trihexagonal

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How much did you pay for that keyboard? The other day you had USB mouse problems. Might be time for some new-to-you Hardware in a vintage Thinkpad.

I only wondered because I paid $50 for the T61 I'm using now and about $53 for the other one with widescreen off ebay. The first one I bought was perfect and I watched it die whe I pulled the UBB mouse from the dock it was sitting in while it was compiling ports. I paid $100 for it but it was in pristene condition and my first one.

After about 2 years sitting in a drawer I was testing which ones worked as a viable candidate for fan donation to my X61. And it fired right back up. In fact th X61 that threw a fan error on boot and gracefully shut itself down is the only one o 10 Thinkpads I've bought off ebay in the past 3-4 years that isn't running right now.

If I were you, and am going to snipe one at auction if you don't, I would watch ebay for a good deal on a W520. There can be had for $400-$300 and I have 2. You just have to be looking at the right time, watch for shiny spots on keys or the spacebar as signs of heavy use and look closely at the screen. If the stickers are still on the plamrest that's a good sign. Ask some questions if you're not sure as a way to get to know them.

Always read carefully because some come without RAM, HDD, battery, power cord, etc. Don't get in a rush and always check the rep of the seller before you decide to buy. What looks like a good deal could turn out to be a headache if you get a lousy seller and something going for a few $$$ more might be worth the money in Aspirin.

Out of over 200 transactions, and some contained 3-4 items if buying watches, I've only had 2 that didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked and only filed a complaint against one of those sellers. She said she would have to gt Prior Authorization from her Countries Ministry of Finance before she could refund my $7. That was pushing it so I couldn't let that slide. :rolleyes:

I worked with a guy wh said he had an ilness in th family or would have already sent my rinky-dink Robby the Robot keychain so I told him no sweat, I could wait as long as it took. He sent me a nice Star Collectors magaizine of Movie and TV Robots worth 2-3 times what I payed for the keychan as a gift.
 
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ksiu

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If you've booted to the Live prompt - then Ctrl-Alt-F2 should switch you to another tty - ttyv1.

Or if you login, you can do "ex".

If you press left-Alt-a you should see "^[a". If Alt isn't working, you'll just get "a".

To quit ex remove anything you typed and enter "quit" and Retu

Okay. I used "ex" and Ctr-Alt-F2 and Alt-F2 to verified that my Alt keys don't work in "FreeBSD Live CD".

So, ordering a new keyboard tonight. Fingers crossed.
 
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ksiu

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I paid just under $200 USD for my t440p. I recently bought it on Taobao (Chinese version of Ebay).
I am quite satisfied with it so far. I expected to have to replace things like keyboard, harddrive, and even the LCD. But the LCD is 1600x900 TN, and it turns out to be better than I expected. Ppeople say how horrible the T series screens are. But I consider the screen to be acceptable. Maybe my standards are just low because i never had a good screen.

A new keyboard is cheap.
I have seen t440p keyboard on Taobao for less than $15 USD, brand new. Oh, I am in China, so shipping cost for me is very cheap and fast.

The only thing that I dont like about this t440p is that the palm rest gets too warm.

Also, I wish it has the 7 row keyboard. I don't like how the F1/F2/F3, etc keys are combined to multimedia keys.

If I could go back in time, I would buy a T520. There was a T520 on Taobao that cost about $150 USD. I main worry was its 1366x768 TN screen. Maybe it is okay. But i fear upgrade to IPS screen on these can be difficult.

I would like a W520 also, but I cannot find them here in China.

Parts for the T520 might be hard to find. Parts for T440/430/420 are much easier to find.

How much did you pay for that keyboard? The other day you had USB mouse problems. Might be time for some new-to-you Hardware in a vintage Thinkpad.

I only wondered because I paid $50 for the T61 I'm using now and about $53 for the other one with widescreen off ebay. The first one I bought was perfect and I watched it die whe I pulled the UBB mouse from the dock it was sitting in while it was compiling ports. I paid $100 for it but it was in pristene condition and my first one.

After about 2 years sitting in a drawer I was testing which ones worked as a viable candidate for fan donation to my X61. And it fired right back up. In fact th X61 that threw a fan error on boot and gracefully shut itself down is the only one o 10 Thinkpads I've bought off ebay in the past 3-4 years that isn't running right now.

If I were you, and am going to snipe one at auction if you don't, I would watch ebay for a good deal on a W520. There can be had for $400-$300 and I have 2. You just have to be looking at the right time, watch for shiny spots on keys or the spacebar as signs of heavy use and look closely at the screen. If the stickers are still on the plamrest that's a good sign. Ask some questions if you're not sure as a way to get to know them.

Always read carefully because some come without RAM, HDD, battery, power cord, etc. Don't get in a rush and always check the rep of the seller before you decide to buy. What looks like a good deal could turn out to be a headache if you get a lousy seller and something going for a few $$$ more might be worth the money in Aspirin.

Out of over 200 transactions, and some contained 3-4 items if buying watches, I've only had 2 that didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked and only filed a complaint against one of those sellers. She said she would have to gt Prior Authorization from her Countries Ministry of Finance before she could refund my $7. That was pushing it so I couldn't let that slide. :rolleyes:

I worked with a guy wh said he had an ilness in th family or would have already sent my rinky-dink Robby the Robot keychain so I told him no sweat, I could wait as long as it took. He sent me a nice Star Collectors magaizine of Movie and TV Robots worth 2-3 times what I payed for the keychan as a gift.
 
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