SUSE LINUX on Dell Inspiron 8600

Setting up the special keys

My 8600 has 7 special keys. Three buttons left from the powerswitch (lower volume, raise volume, mute) and four buttons right to the keybord (play, stop, back, forward).

Setting up the special keys is quite easy. Just start the program xev and look, whether you can see messages like this, while pressing the special keys:

KeyRelease event, serial 30, synthetic NO, window 0x3800001,
root 0x58, subw 0x0, time 2909216, (159,10), root:(161,35),
state 0x10, keycode 174 (keysym 0x1008ff11, XF86AudioLowerVolume), same_screen YES,
XLookupString gives 0 bytes:

Important for us are the keycode entries. Write them down, we will need them later. My laptop sends the following keycode strings:

Next we have to tell the X Window System about this keys. This is done by the following Xmodmap.txt file:

!! Inspiron 8600 special keys
keycode 160 = XF86AudioMute
keycode 174 = XF86AudioLowerVolume
keycode 176 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume

keycode 162 = XF86AudioPlay
keycode 164 = XF86AudioStop
keycode 144 = XF86AudioPrev
keycode 153 = XF86AudioNext

If you're lazy and have the same keys than I, then you can download my Xmodmap.txt file.

Load the file with the xmodmap command:

xmodmap Xmodmap.txt

That's it. Don't forget to put an executable file with this command (e.g. in the KDE Autostart directory under .kde/Autostart (or whereever you like:-). Otherwise you have to call this command manually every time you want to use the special keys.

Using the keys under KDE

Hope I didn't disappoint you. If you are pressing the keys now, nothing special happens, as there is no action defined for the special keys. I will show you now, how to set up the volume keys, the rest is easy...

  1. Start the mixer applet of the panel (right-click -> Add -> Applet -> Soundmixer).

  2. The mixer applet

  3. Click right on the main channel and choose 'Configure Shortcuts'. In the new window click on 'Increase Volume' then on the 'None' button.

  4. press the 'None' key

  5. Press now the Raise Volume special key. Then repeat this steps for the other keys.

You can set up this keys for almost any KDE application. With GTK-applications e.g. Xmms it's even easier. Just choose the menue entry you want a special key for, then press the key.

Have fun!

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