I am trying to force numlock to be on upon initial boot at the login screen on Ubuntu 12.04. The only solutions I have found so far switch numlock on only after initial login.

I'm looking to force numlock to be on when the login screen is displayed, and before the user has logged in. Can anyone assist?

  • is it during login screen on lightdm or after logging in under unity? cause i know solution to both – sarvesh.lad May 2 '12 at 17:11
  • 1
    From darryn.ten -- NOT an exact duplicate, as I need numlock on BEFORE I login not after. – Jjed Jul 24 '12 at 21:58
  • For Ubuntu 18.04 using Gdm3 see @Faisal answer – surfealokesea Feb 14 '20 at 16:11
  • If you want to enable numlock during cryptdisk boot password prompt in plymouth: superuser.com/a/1085795 – geekley Mar 23 at 5:01

10 Answers 10


On many machines, you can set whether or not Number Lock is turned on on boot, in the BIOS settings (accessible when you first power on the machine).

Otherwise, there are a number of ways to enable (or disable) Number Lock in software, depending on your specific needs. The most useful ways are listed here.

If you want Number Lock turned on when Ubuntu starts (not before that on the GRUB menu, and not afterwards when logging in, and not just for specific virtual consoles), then install numlockx and make the initialization script /etc/init.d/rc.local use it to enable Number Lock:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y install numlockx
sudo sed -i 's|^exit 0.*$|# Numlock enable\n[ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ] \&\& numlockx on\n\nexit 0|' /etc/init.d/rc.local

Source: NumLock, by Contributors to the Ubuntu documentation wiki, last line taken verbatim (as this source permits).

  • So I followed the instructions over at the wiki page you linked to. I did the update command you list here. I did sudo apt-get install numlockx. But I didn't use the y option. Is that necessary? Didn't say anything about it over at the wiki page so I didn't do any of that. I rebooted and everything but Numlock is still disabled at boot and at login screen. Will try the update command. Other than that, am I missing something else here? The option "default numeric keypad keys" from keyboard preferences doesn't concern boot settings so I didn't enable that. Should I? – Samir Jul 21 '13 at 13:26
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    This did not work for me. Answer by +luvr did however. – Clarkey Aug 24 '13 at 19:16
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    This no longer works on Xubuntu LTS 12.04. – Serge Stroobandt May 9 '14 at 16:39
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    -y option is for force answer "Yes" if apt-get question about to install it. BECAREFUL WITH THIS: sometimes -I think here it is not the case, at least not in my case- there is some cases when apt-get says that something is needed to remove; in that cases apt-get will ask you confirm that action. But, sometimes remove packages automatically using apt would cause several problems on your machine. As an example sometimes ask you for remove some graphical packages that are use for GUI'S. Even sometimes it has asked me to remove gnome-desktop and some gpu drivers...that will really messed up SO – Diego Andrés Díaz Espinoza Mar 12 '15 at 18:55
  • On newer systems, you need to edit your ~/.bashrc file. Add line numlockx on. – Jim Fell Mar 8 at 14:34

Here's what worked for me:

  1. Ensure that numlockx is installed:

    sudo apt-get install numlockx
  2. Edit the file /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

    gksudo gedit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
  3. Add the following line to the file:

    greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on
  • How can I just verify that numlockx is installed? Should it appear on a dash search? – Samir Jul 21 '13 at 13:32
  • Do I have to remove greeter-session=unity-greeter or the user-session=ubuntu` from the file (lightdm.conf)? Or just the greeter-setup-script line below them? – Samir Jul 21 '13 at 13:35
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    On Ubuntu 13.10 this method prevented the display of the login screen on my machine. After the initial display of the Ubuntu logo, the monitor was simply showing that there is no signal (I tried to reboot a couple of times but it always ended up the same). Not knowing what else to do, I booted the system from a live USB and removed the line from lightdm.conf. After that the system loaded up again just fine. – tmt Jan 3 '14 at 15:57
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    While I know this trick worked for me in past versions, it no longer seems to works in 14.04. Adding this line to lightdm.conf breaks the login process, sending me to Low Graphics mode and preventing a login with Nvidia drivers. Removing this line fixed the problem. – cowbell40 Jan 12 '15 at 19:28
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    I don't have the file /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf But I have this /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/70-linuxmint.conf and it works!!! :D – Shayan Feb 28 '18 at 15:20


Yes, use locate command as follow:

locate 50-unity-greeter.conf

The output is:


So, the file you need to edit is the above file.

sudo apt-get install numlockx
gksu gedit /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-unity-greeter.conf

Add this line at the end of file:

greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on
  • 1
    What's the difference between /usr/share/lightdm/ and /etc/lightdm? Wouldn't the settings in the former folder be overwritten with updates, while in the second they wont or did I misunderstand the meaning of the folders? – Peter Raeves Oct 21 '14 at 8:39
  • @PeterRaeves: You are absolutely correct. Radu, I would suggest that you edit your answer accordingly. Editing a package file which is not under /etc can't be anything but a temporary hack. – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 8 '14 at 22:32
  • This one worked for me – abhishah901 Sep 18 '15 at 4:19
  • This is the closest answer that helped me. I use Xubuntu 14.04 and the file was /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/10-xubuntu.conf and I added the greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on to the end of that file and it worked great! +1 for pointing me in the right direction! – Terrance Feb 3 '16 at 1:00
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    in 16.04 beta2 this will lead to this problem askubuntu.com/questions/141606/… – Geng Jiawen Apr 6 '16 at 9:28

For Enabling it on Login Screen

First, ensure that numlockx is installed, by typing these in terminal:

sudo apt-get install numlockx

Then, edit the file /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

gksudo gedit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Add the following line to the file:

greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on

For Enabling Numlock by Default after Logging In..

  1. In Dash Search for Keyboard Layout and open it
  2. In the window that opens on the ottom right there is Options, click on it.
  3. Under Miscellaneous compatibility options, Enable Default Numeric Keys.

enter image description here

  • 1
    it's not this case, i make this procedure by the way. I press the button "Num Lock" and immediately it's goes off, "don't stay on". I had checked the keyboard and it's ok in other machine and other o.s. I change the keyboard to an older ps/2 keyboard to test. It seems that works, ie, there is some problem with USB keyboard in ubuntu 12.04 – Brunno May 4 '12 at 14:12
  • what is a Dash Search? my mine is ubuntu 16.4, and i have not seen Keyboard Layout options (searched under settings, only for keyboard, and it did not have the 'default numeric keypad keys'. – soMuchToLearn Nov 1 '18 at 11:14

I have done this, and it worked for me. First, make sure you have universe repository added.

Just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the commands below.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install numlockx

Now that numlockx is installed, create a file named Default in /etc/X11/ with these contents:

if [ -x /usr/bin/X11/numlockx ]; then
    /usr/bin/X11/numlockx on

exit 0

Turn off your Num Lock and reboot. Voilà!

  • 2
    doesn't work in 18.04 – equitharn May 2 '18 at 14:38

Xubuntu specific.

Versions from 14.10 include a pkexec mousepad action.

Follow previous answers to install numlockx

Edit /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/60-lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf as root

Alt+F2 then

pkexec mousepad /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/60-lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf


greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on

then save.


Ubuntu 18.04

Open terminal by Ctrl+Alt+T

Run commands

sudo -i
xhost +SI:localuser:gdm
su gdm -s /bin/bash
gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.peripherals.keyboard numlock-state 'on'
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad tap-to-click true

That's it...

Solution by

In Ubuntu 20.04

To Keep it on

org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.keyboard remember-numlock-state true

To Keep it off

org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.keyboard numlock-state false

You can configure the way you like.

  • 1
    I get: Command 'gdm' not found – Hakaishin Jul 26 '19 at 7:05
  • This is the solution if you use Gdm3 in Ubuntu 18.04 (the last line is not needed) – surfealokesea Feb 14 '20 at 16:10
  • I get No such key “numlock-state” – Raffi Khatchadourian Sep 18 '20 at 14:02
  • @RaffiKhatchadourian Shouldn't be a problem if you update to 20.04 – Faisal Oct 9 '20 at 17:14
  • I'm using 20.04 and get the same error "no such key" – NullVoxPopuli Feb 16 at 16:27

Most BIOSes allow this to be enabled. You can check your BIOS for this feature.


Go to : System Settings -> Keyboard Layout -> Options -> Miscellaneous compatibility options

Check "Default numeric keypad keys"

Sources : https://help.ubuntu.com/community/NumLock


Here is a little bash script which takes care of everything in an automated way:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
KEYVALUE='greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on'
sudo apt --yes install numlockx
grep --quiet "$KEYVALUE" "$FILE" || echo "$KEYVALUE" | sudo tee --append "$FILE"

Do not forget to first make your bash script executable with chmod +x scriptname, then execute it with ./scriptname.

  • @Phantômaxx The fourth line in my script reads sudo apt --yes install numlockx – Serge Stroobandt Feb 25 at 16:03
  • I didn't notice that. – Phantômaxx Feb 25 at 19:38
  • Anyway, it didn't work for me (Ubuntu Studio 20.10). No automatic numlock at login. – Phantômaxx Feb 25 at 20:04



Num Lock state reset

  • 1
    Is that for user setting after they log in? – WinEunuuchs2Unix May 27 '19 at 19:39

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