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Tag: keyboard

Making a Compaq Deskpro sff boot without keyboard

To boot a compaq Deskpro sff without keyboard, you need to configure the BIOS in a special way.

I found this:

– Run BIOS setup by pressing F10
– Goto ‘Security’ and ‘Set Power On Password’
– Type in a password and F10 to accept the change
– As soon as password is set, ‘Password Options’ will appear under ‘Security’ tab
– Enable ‘Network Server’ mode in there
– F10 to save changes and exit

When booting up it won’t ask you for F1 anymore. However, if you or
someone else plugs in a keyboard it will ask for a power-on password.

Using Caps Lock as an extra Control key

With me mostly posting about computer stuff on this weblog, it might surprise you that, until May this year, I hadn’t owned a personal computer in years while the last one that I did own was a slow pig grown from some old parts of an even slower pig and some second-hand replacements. So, you can image my joy when I got a shiny, new Lenovo Thinkpad 61 this spring.

One of the joys of once more owning a personal computer is that I don’t have to live through PuTTY anymore. (I used to SSH to the local Debian server here if I wanted to get anything done.) I’ve reacquainted myself with Gentoo and I’m loving it. Of course, there’s a lot more to configure than with Ubuntu (which supports the T61 very neatly out of the box), but that’s the whole point; I want to be able to configure everything my way and I want to update my knowledge about how Linux systems are made up these days. Control.

On the topic of control, the Control key on the Lenovo keyboard, as with many laptop keyboards that I’ve encountered, is in a bit of an awkward position, squeezed to the right by the Function key. Since, I very much depend on the Control key for shortcuts (in just about anything, but especially in libreadline-based programs), I decided to change the Caps Lock key to be an extra Control key. I’ve never actually used the CapsLock key in my life, I probably never will, older keyboards used that very spot for the Control Key, and why not? It’s a much better spot, requiring less gymnastics for my little pinky to reach. Once I considered this I was actually puzzled about why I’ve always wasted such an well-accessible key position.


On to the configuration. I wanted this to work in both Console mode and in X. But first X. In the xorg.conf, I went to the InputDevice section for my keyboard and added ctrl:nocaps to XkbOptions. The full XkbOptions line now reads:

Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps,altwin:menu,compose:ralt,eurosign:e"

That’s it. I had to take a few more steps to get it to work in the console also.


First, I created a file called “/etc/extra-key-conf” with the following contents:

keymaps 0-15
keycode 58 = Control

Then I added the following to /etc/conf.d/local.start. This is a Gentoo specific script that is loaded by /etc/init.d/local.

[ -z "$DISPLAY" -a -e /etc/extra-key-conf ];
        loadkeys /etc/extra-key-conf &>/dev/null

What this does is to check if the $DISPLAY variable isn’t set (of which we can be sure in this context, but may be useful if you plan to copy this snippet). It also checks if /etc/extra-key-conf exists. If both conditions are satisfied, loadkeys is called with that file as its argument.

In conclusion

I can really recommend this configuration even if your Control key is not awkwardly positioned on your keyboard. Do you use your Caps Lock key? Regularly? If you don’t, this will make your keyboard use more effective.


If you want to read into this more extensively, I recommend the Remap Caps Lock article from the Portland Pattern Repository.

Another contributed Readline keyboard shortcut

Last Wednesday, I was given a very nice response with a great tip to my table of Readline keyboard shortcuts by Luca City. Yesterday, Lance Levine gave me another extremely nice response and another great tip:

Just wanted to say appreciate the nice readline cheatsheet. There were a couple I never knew (the ctrl-alt-asterisk is gonna be a real time saver) and I never knew about ctrl-G or ctrl-J to end incremental searches either.

One that might be worth knowing for a lot of people if you ever make updates, would be the ctrl-x-x cmd. which takes you to the beginning of the line (and then back again if you hit it again). I enjoy working in screen, and the default ctrl-a escapes you from readline when you’re in a screen session so I never use it lest get confused.

Best Regards,
Lance Levine

Well, Lance, I’m an avid GNU screen user myself, so your tip is very useful to me! I’ve added it to the table to ease the suffering of our fellow GNU screen users. 🙂

Indeed I did, but I found it difficult to come up with a concise and clear description of the shortcut. So difficult, in fact, that I didn’t succeed at it:

Ctrl+x+x readline keyboard shortcut with ugly description

So, what does the Readline user manual have to say that may help me with a description?

exchange-point-and-mark (C-x C-x)
Swap the point with the mark. The current cursor position is set to the saved position, and the old cursor position is saved as the mark.

While typing, the mark normally is at the beginning of the line. Pressing Ctrl-x-x will move the cursor to the mark and set the mark to the old cursor position. If you now move the cursor and press Ctrl-x-x again, the mark won’t be at the beginning of the line but at place where you moved the cursor to. This means that the Ctrl-x-x shortcut is more than just a way to move back and forth between the beginning and ending of a line.

Another goody worth mentioning is the Ctrl-@ shortcut which will simply set the mark at the current cursor position or at the position specified by a numeric argument.

Now, I just need to think of a way to integrate these two Readline command bindings into the table without the descriptions taking up as many lines as this blog post. 😕 Any bright ideas, anyone?

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