Ubuntu and Apple's Aluminum Wireless Keyboard


Last night I went down to the Apple store with Dr. Doval and I used my iPhone rebate to snag me one of them shiny new compact Bluetooth keyboards. It's very nice, it takes up almost no room on my desk, ... and I love how it feels when I'm typing - the spaces between the keys are great for touch typing. You almost never hit two keys at once.

Setting it up with Ubuntu, however, is so far a complete pain in the ass. This post is sort of a warning for those who are curious if the keyboard will work with Ubuntu out of the box - the answer is "no". First, it took me a while to get the thing even paired with Ubuntu - even with Gutsy Gibbon's spanky new Bluetooth dialogs to help out. After I paired the keyboard, it still wasn't actually being recognized as a keyboard so I couldn't use it. I had to go into the /etc/default/bluetooth config file and manually add a connect string with the Bluetooth ID of the keyboard in order to get it to work. You can find the details on the Ubuntu forums. After I got it working to type, the function keys are still wonky. The Fn key, for example, isn't recognized yet, and the Command keys are being completely ignored.

Additionally, I wasn't really paying attention when I got the keyboard, so it didn't dawn on me that it lacked Page Up and Page Down keys. Apparently you can hit the function key and arrows on a Mac to do this, but that's not working yet on my box. Also, there's no Print Screen key (no more screen shots) and no Insert key (so shift-insert for pasting in terminal windows is gone) and no dedicated Delete key (so deleting forward isn't easy).

I'm sure I'll eventually work out how to get stuff working and find workarounds, but it's sadly not plug and play. That said, the keyboard is still *really* nice. I love the tactile feedback, the spacing and the general compact size. However, I'm thinking that I probably should have just gotten one of those bigger 101 key keyboards instead...

I'll update this with more specific solutions if I figure stuff out any time soon. :-)


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