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To be more clear, right now the volume and brightness keys are used and I have to hold 'fn' in order to execute an F1, F2, F3, F4, F5... command. Can I reverse this so it's function key by default and holding 'fn' enables the volume and other special controls?

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Are you looking for a per-user or system-wide setting? – ændrük Oct 15 '10 at 17:13
Could you specify what sort of keyboard this is; a stand-alone Apple USB keyboard, or something built into a laptop? This will help others with the same question find it more easily. – Jeremy Kerr Feb 17 '11 at 3:02
up vote 14 down vote accepted

This is described on the Ubuntu Community Wiki:

You can try:

sudo bash -c "echo 2 > /sys/module/hid_apple/parameters/fnmode"

If it works you can change this permanently (more info see the wiki page)

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On older Apple laptop hardware, this is accomplished by a configuration setting of PBButtonsd. You would need to add this line to the config file /etc/pbbuttonsd.conf:

KBDMode = fkeysfirst  

PBButtonsd works on iBooks and PowerBooks (PowerPC-based) and MacBooks (Intel-based); the native Ubuntu package seems to have disappeared after Dapper Drake

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Actually I'm running a Thinkpad T510, I just love these aluminum Apple keyboards. – ioSamurai Oct 17 '10 at 2:36

it may also be worthwhile to check your BIOS options for this feature. On my Dell Inspiron, this can be set through the BIOS. Hopefully it'll work for your hardware too.

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please try this when editing directly fnmode fails.

echo 2 | sudo tee /sys/module/hid_apple/parameters/fnmode

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