Special keys on T400s not working

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Special keys on T400s not working

Postby Onsemeliot » 2018-02-10 21:29

A few days ago I discovered that on Tails 3.5 all the second function keys of my Lenovo ThinkPad T400s do reliably work. In Debian only the second functions of the arrow keys work normally (for audio/video playback). The rest did work only twice suddenly (about half a year apart) a whole session long until I turned the system off again.

I checked the keyboard configuration file in /etc/default/keyboard but I can't find any meaningful difference between Tails and Debain. This is the file in Debian:

Code: Select all
# KEYBOARD CONFIGURATION FILE

XKBMODEL="pc105"
XKBLAYOUT="de"
XKBVARIANT=""
XKBOPTIONS=""

BACKSPACE="guess"


Since Tails is derived from Debian I don't really get what could be different. Unfortunately I couldn't find out on what version of Debian Tails 3.5 is based. Maybe testing? This could be an explanation. Or does Tails usually include non-free drivers that could cause the difference?

I specifically bought this system from Technoetical because it should work well with exclusively free software. I had accepted that the second function keys I would like to use unfortunately do not work. But because I discovered that this isn't a problem in Tails 3.5 I do hope again this should be solvable. Does anyone here have an Idea how to approach this?
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby arochester » 2018-02-10 21:39

Since Tails is derived from Debian I don't really get what could be different.


Start with Debian.
Add Something.
Take away something.
Change something.

The end product is not Debian.

https://tails.boum.org/support/index.en.html
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby GarryRicketson » 2018-02-10 21:53

Or does Tails usually include non-free drivers that could cause the difference?

I don't know, not familiar with Tails.

Since Tails is derived from Debian I don't really get what could be different. Unfortunately I couldn't find out on what version of Debian Tails 3.5 is based.

Well lot's of things could be different, and Debian users are not as likely to know things like this, simply because they do not use tails, (well maybe a few do), but any way, you would be more likely to find people that know about tails on the tails forum.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby bw123 » 2018-02-10 21:58


...because I discovered that this isn't a problem in Tails 3.5 I do hope again this should be solvable. Does anyone here have an Idea how to approach this?


I think you're right, if it works on a debian-based os, it probably is solveable on debian. i would maybe take a look at how tails manages the keys in their setup, then compare that to debian.

When you use a debian-based os, a lot of decisions are made for you, so trying to duplicate that setup is sometimes difficult. That's one reason they are popular - they take the work out of it.

xev is the thing that gives you the keycodes under xwindows, some systems use acpi events for special keys. I would probably check up on both for that machine. And do some internet searches, like linux+t400s+keys.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby smoki » 2018-02-11 00:28

Onsemeliot wrote: Since Tails is derived from Debian I don't really get what could be different...

Does anyone here have an Idea how to approach this?


Tails probably use newer kernel...

https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentatio ... d-acpi.txt

thinkpad_acpi module is responsible for these keys on ThinkPads, so as you can see there are some changes there

https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/ke ... pad_acpi.c

4.9 stops at 2016-06-08, so try 4.14 kernel from backports:

https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/ke ... h=v4.14.18

that stops at 2017-08-18 and master continue, so depending who asks answer is somewhere there

Usual answer is "try newer or older kernel" if something does not work, as it is either progression or regression :lol:
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby Onsemeliot » 2018-02-11 15:10

Thank you for your answers.

Of course I did try to find a solution via search engines before I posted my initial question. And I already tried xev some time ago. I discovered that most of the second function keys do not even produce any output with it.

As you might expect from how I have described my problem I am not very well versed with system administration. But most guides I found on the net where obviously outdated.

I didn't try to use a different kernel from backports yet. Maybe this is the best shot I have right now.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby bw123 » 2018-02-11 19:25

That link to tehnoetic says the machine shipped with a libreboot bios and trisquel os preinstalled. So any help you find online about t400s is going to be iffy. That should be a big part of any post or search you make, libreboot bios t400s.

That is odd that xev shows no output at all? No output for the working fn keys either? Have you tried acpi_listen to see if you are getting any events from those keys? Is acpid installed?

If you are not getting keycodes or acpi events from the keys, then I'd sure think newer kernel -or- some acpi related kernel parameter might help.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby Onsemeliot » 2018-02-11 21:08

bw123 wrote:That link to tehnoetic says the machine shipped with a libreboot bios and trisquel os preinstalled. ... That should be a big part of any post or search you make, libreboot bios t400s.

All right. I didn't think of that. Thank you for pointing that out.

That is odd that xev shows no output at all? No output for the working fn keys either?

The working keys produce proper output (as far as I can tell).

Have you tried acpi_listen to see if you are getting any events from those keys? Is acpid installed?

No, the command can not be found. I will try to add acpid and report back.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby None1975 » 2018-02-12 15:46

Tails is not a Debian. Go to Tails forum and ask for help there.
OS: Debian 9.5 / WM: Xmonad
Debian Wiki | DontBreakDebian, My config files in github
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby Onsemeliot » 2018-02-17 07:07

None1975 wrote:Tails is not a Debian. Go to Tails forum and ask for help there.


I don't have problems with Tails. Tails just shows me that it should work with Debian too.
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Re: Special keys on T400s not working

Postby Onsemeliot » 2018-02-21 08:38

Onsemeliot wrote:I don't have problems with Tails. Tails just shows me that it should work with Debian too.


Sorry, I just discovered that with Tails it's actually no different from Debian. I was obviously lucky that it worked several times at the beginning. Last time when I booted Tails on my system the second function keys didn't work either. So it isn't working on both systems ...at least not reliably.
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