intermittent keyboard mismapping: 13.2.5 on XO-1 SKU39

Adam Holt holt at
Tue Aug 4 09:28:23 EDT 2015

Just an update that I've narrowed in on the/a pattern which triggers the
problem, with the help of James Cameron, and some workarounds:

   - Tapping the ESC key very rapidly during bootup causes the keyboard
   mismapping (and hence, failure to enter Open Firmware).
   - Holding down the ESC key during bootup (generally, but not always)
   avoids the problem (entering Open Firmware).
   - Typing no keys at all during initial bootup, appears (I hope) to be a
   workaround to boot the OS properly, with keyboard functioning properly.

Better yet, earlier firmware (e.g. q2e41 in this case) does not appear to
show the problem at all, so newer firmware may be available in future to
solve this annoying-but-less-serious-that-I-imagined problem.  For all
using SKU39 XO-1s (or perhaps other/similar XO laptops having the modern

On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 7:03 PM, Adam Holt <holt at> wrote:

> I haven't figured out the pattern yet, but perhaps 50% of the time these
> XO-1s boot with an unusable keyboard (it's a "US Intl" keyboard, but the
> keys end up mapped to all the wrong places, showing the wrong
> letters/numbers, such that not even the ESC key works to get to the Ok
> prompt).
> This pattern arises with "vanilla" 13.2.5 (without SD cards) as well as
> 13.2.5 with SD cards.  In other words both of these:
> Running the "bye" command at the Ok prompt seems to trigger the problem
> almost every time (possibly every time?).  But that is not the only thing
> that triggers the problem.  Sometimes the XO just boots with unusable
> keyboard, repeatedly.  Then when I try to hit ESC on boot 20 times in a
> row, I cannot reproduce the problem at other times.  Problem occurs on all
> SKU39 XO-1s I've tried so far.
> I've not yet tried other SKU's.  My testing has only just begun, to see if
> this same problem occurs with (both) 13.2.4 OS's and earlier.
> Any tips for debugging / identifying the source of this quite serious
> gremlin?  What should I and my small team of debugging volunteers look out
> for and try?  And I'll do more work on this when I get back home late
> tonight, but all thoughts appreciated-
> (Also, any recommendations as to which older builds are best, as an
> interim workaround?)
> --
> Unsung Heroes of OLPC, interviewed live @ !
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