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While running an OS in VirtualBox on Ubuntu 10.10 amd64, I find the the left control key is not being properly detected. (The right control key is used by VirtualBox, but the left control key should be available.) This makes programs like Emacs, that heavily rely on the control key, not work correctly. Searching the Internet, I found similar complaints that were fixed in by turning off "Show position of pointer when the Control key is pressed" in mouse preferences. Since this is already turned off on my system (actually in both host and client OSs), I don't think this is the problem.

My question: is this a bug, a feature or operator error?


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This appears to have been fixed for 13.04 (Raring): bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-settings-daemon/+bug/… –  Ryan Jan 8 '13 at 1:08

3 Answers 3

As a workaround for Emacs in Virtual Box you can operate the control key functions by pressing

CapsLock+Control then release CapsLock while holding Control and press the corresponding funktion key (e.g. N).

To make use of the right shift key (however that key is also not fully operational in Virtual Box) you can define another Host key from the Virtual Box Manager settings in File -> Preferences -> Input.

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Yes, this works for me. Thanks! I can now do things like C-x C-f in Emacs. –  Mike Goldberg Apr 22 '11 at 16:51
I was trying to do something similar for uni as a purely academic exercise (i.e. reading the Emacs manual and trying to EXACTLY replicate what was there). In the end I swapped to a different terminal with [ctrl]+[alt]+[f6] (unix.stackexchange.com/a/34519/10337) and ran the non-graphical, default version of Emacs with emacs -nw -q sample. This is a pretty specific use case, but it negates some of the issues you're describing. DISLAIMER - I'm pretty sure tty6 has some special purpose, but this is my sandbox Ubuntu VirtualBox instance and I don't care if I wreck it. –  Aaron Newton Aug 2 '12 at 12:53

In Ubuntu 12.04, disabling the mouse pointer (Systen settings > Mouse and Touchpad > Show position of pointer when the Control key is pressed) does the trick.

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He stated in the question that this option was already turned off. –  Ryan Jan 8 '13 at 1:07

I could get the control key to work by disabling "Highlight the pointer when you press Ctrl" in the mouse preferences. This was on Fedora with Gnome 3, so it might not help you.

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