Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Caps lock

I hate caps lock. I've never found it useful, and if my finger hits it when
I'm aiming for the shift key, my typing from then on is ALL CAPITALS and I
don't notice because I look at the keyboard when I'm typing. And then I have
to backspace it all out and retype it.

So I normally disable the CAPS LOCK key on any computer I use regularly. There's a few ways to do that, you don't need to lever it out with a crowbar.

The usual way is with xmodmap.

xmodmap -e "clear Lock"
xmodmap -e "remove lock = Caps_Lock"

Another way is with  setxkbmap

setxkbmap -option caps:none
setxkbmap -option ctrl:nocaps

But none of those worked on my lovely new Lenovo Thinkpad X1. So I Googled.

The first thng I found out is that the keyboard doesn't actually have a caps lock key. That, I heartily approve of. If you want to set caps lock, you hit the shift key twice, an led comes on, and you're in CAPS LOCK.

But I don't want to use the laptop's own keyboard. It's a bit minging. I want to plug in a decent keyboard, with the standard layout that I'm used to.

I remember once I was looking at a new car, and the layout of the controls was ... different. The salesman explained to me "You'll soon get used to it" to which my reply was "I guess you only ever drive one car, right?" Well, I use lots of computers, and my fingers know where everything is on the keyboard, and I do *NOT* want to be fumbling all the time because the layout is different.

So I want to put one of my beautiful old (vintage 1983) IBM "buckling spring" keyboards on it. But they have a PS/2 interface, so the first thing I had to do was use a converter for PS/2 to USB. No problem, I have a couple of those.

Then I wanted to disable CAPS LOCK and that where I ran into trouble. Eventually I found an answer. It's the gnome-tweak-tool, which is useful for all sorts of tweaks to Gnome (the Linux user interface I use). What you have to do is choose the "Keyboard" option, then "Additional layout options", then change Caps Lock key behavior from "Disabled" to "Caps Lock is disabled".

No, I don't have an explanation about why "Disabled" is different from "Caps Lock is disabled". It's just one of those mysterious things.


  1. At the risk of having this reply declared to be "nice" by Dorothy S. Berryman, I will make it anyway:

    I remember a method from somewhere, which allowed me to un-capitalise a passage of text. Can't for the life of me remember what provided this though.

  2. Does anyone else remember Dr.Solomon's How-To about cleaning a keyboard by taking it into the shower?

    My method for disabling caps-lock is to pry off the key cap.

  3. I do remember that how-to. But it involved dismantling it completely, and reassembling it. I still have that keyboard, and it still works perfectly!

  4. The problem turned out to be a dead greenfly under the Q key.