So my issue is I just reinstalled Ubuntu 13.04 and as always I install xbindkeys and set up my search button to be middle click and the scroll wheel side clicks to copy/paste. However it was working but after a reboot it didn't start. Tried to manually start but nothing, and xbindkeys -n shows:

*** Warning *** Please verify that there is not another program running
which captures one of the keys captured by xbindkeys. It seems that there
is a conflict, and xbindkeys can't grab all the keys defined in its
configuration file.

How can I find out what is conflicting with xbindkeys? I disabled the Search key shortcut in the Settings > Keyboard which worked last time but this time its not helping.

  • Having the same issue on Ubuntu 14.10 – Jonathan Dec 27 '14 at 23:28
  • What's the output of xmodmap -pk and localectl? – Fabby Dec 29 '14 at 12:45

The only solution I see is to kill processes one by one and try to run xbindkeys -n each time. Then you will be able to deduce which process occupies your key combinations. To identify which PIDs you should kill look at ps aufx|grep $(whoami). Start with obvious ones, then continue with leaves except of course non-X applications (bash, mc, etc.) and your terminal application. Unless you kill your terminal app you should be able to proceed.


Cite from Community Help Wiki - Keyboard Shortcuts

Laptop Function Shortcuts

Many laptops have function Fn keys which you can hold down to access more functions on the laptop's keyboard. A list of these functions should be available from the manufacturer of the laptop.

Text Entry Shortcuts

If you want to have quick access to lines of text by using a hotkey, for example to enter your email address in forms, then you can use xbindkeys. Xbindkeys has a GUI utility to allow easy settings of hotkeys, but be aware that it's a little more complicated than the default Ubuntu Shortcutkeys interface.

  1. Install xbindkeys:

    sudo apt-get install xbindkeys
  2. Create the default config file for xbindkeys:

    xbindkeys --defaults > /home/your-user-name/.xbindkeysrc
  3. When thats done, install xbindkeys-config, the GUI for xbindkeys:

    sudo apt-get install xbindkeys-config
  4. Now the utility that actually does the "typing":

    sudo apt-get install xvkbd
  5. Once each is installed, start both applications by bringing up Run Application Alt+F2:

  6. and Alt+F2:


To keep the xbindkeys hotkeys active when you next start the computer you will have to add a new session, System > Preferences > Sessions. Put in the command xbindkeys into the command field.

You should be able to see the Xbindkeys Config window. Start a new hotkey. Hit New on the bottom row of buttons. Then use the edit area at the top right. Give the hotkey a name. Hit the GetKey button to set the keypress for a hotkey. Some hotkeys may conflict with other hotkeys on the system (a window will open or a compiz plugin will activate). If this happens then choose another combination like Ctrl+Alt+F for example.

Now put the command to activate with that hotkey in the Action field. This can be anything, but to allow for the entry of a line of text into part of the GUI enter

xvkbd -xsendevent -text "myemail@server.com"

The example shows an email address but it can be any line of text. Now hit Apply and test the hotkey in a Firefox field, text editor, or anywhere that text can be entered. Please note that using Run Action will not be able to test the command in xbindkeys-config, you will have to test it somewhere else.

Replacing keys with other keys

If you want to use xbindkeys to override certain keys on your keyboard, you can catch them with xbindkeys, and then emit new keypresses using xmacro. To install xmacro, use:

sudo apt-get install xmacro

After this, you can find out the commands for specific keypresses by starting xmacrorec:

xmacrorec :0.0

First give it the key which will allow you to quit the app, then press the keys you want to know the codes for. After this, you can use those codes in the commands you tell xbindkeys to run, for example:

xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Next

will simulate a key press of the PageDown key. Thus, in my .xbindkeysrc the following contents

"xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Prior"

"xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Next"

will turn the Backward/Forward buttons on my Thinkpad T41 into PageDown and PageUp keys, and will no longer disturb my browsing as I accidentally press those Backward/Forward while browsing.

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