behaviour of F-keys on XO HS

Daniel Drake dsd at
Thu Jul 15 18:50:39 EDT 2010


On the XO HS (highschool edition, the one with a more "normal"
keyboard) we're facing some questions about how the F keys should
function, under sugar and GNOME.

The technicalities are in and here
is a picture of the keyboard:

Under non-sugar environments (e.g. GNOME), myself and Paul are in
agreement that in order to change brightness and volume, you should
press e.g. Fn+F9 (to decrease brightness).

This matches behaviour of "normal" laptops, including the Dell that
I'm writing on. Linux already has mechanisms (once through hal, now
through udev) so that when I press Fn+F8 on my Dell, X receives the
"volume down" key press (instead of the Fn+F8 key press), matching
what is printed on the keyboard.

We want all of the unmodified F-keys to send the normal F-key events
(we don't want to map them especially). This is for maximum
compatibility with non-sugar environments.

For Sugar we have an open question.
The F1-F4 keys have the zoom levels printed on them, and pressing the
keys unmodified will cause the zoom levels to change (because this is
how Sugar is already coded, it responds to the literal F1 keypress).

The other keys are:
 - F5: search/journal
 - F6: frame
 - F9: brightness down
 - F10: brightness up
 - F11: volume down
 - F12: volume up

For these other keys, when using Sugar, should the user have to press
the Fn modifier while pressing the key in order to reach the named

The advantage of not having to press Fn (i.e. the keys would work
unmodified) is that sugar works the way it always has on XO (we retain
consistency with XO-1).
As for the other option, the advantage of requiring Fn is that we gain
consistency between Sugar and GNOME, and between the XO HS and
"normal" laptops (where Fn *is* necessary to reach those alternate
functions). (but we do end up with some confusion with the zoom level
keys,which will continue to work unmodified)

If we decide to make the keys available unmodified in Sugar we would
have to change sugar (worldwide, not interested in downstream forked
patches) so that F5 on any system opens the journal, F6 on any system
opens the frame, etc. How would people feel about that?


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