I am running Ubuntu 10.04, fully updated, from an external USB hard drive. Everything works really well, except the keyboard. The numeric keypad is not working. The keys don't do anything, with or without NumLock on.

The Keyboard Preferences are set for Generic 105-Key (Intl) PC. The keyboard itself, on this computer, is PS2.

Any ideas where to look for trying to fix this?

  • What behavior do you see in the console (Ctrl-Alt-F1)? If they work there, what does showkey report when run in the console? If that behaves properly, what does xev report under X?
    – msw
    Sep 21, 2010 at 6:01
  • Switched to console, and they didn't work at the beginning. Pressing Num Lock a couple of times made them work. "showkey" also shows reaction, with keycodes 71,72,73...81,82,83... Looks normal. Oooooohhhh... I just solved it. I'll answer my own question below. Thanks for your suggestions, they helped me to notice what was happening!!!
    – UrkoM
    Sep 21, 2010 at 9:49

4 Answers 4


Sometimes, in machines that I connect through VNC mouse keys get mysteriously enabled. Maybe this is your problem.

Click on the System Menu -> Preferences -> Keyboard. In the Mouse Keys tab check that Pointer can be controlled using the keypad is disabled.

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  • Ooops....!!! That was it! When I found that the keys were working fine in the terminal, it was obvious that the hardware was being detected just fine. Then started testing with xev and noticed that the mouse cursor was moving very small steps. So... thanks for reading! :)
    – UrkoM
    Sep 21, 2010 at 10:02
  • 1
    Toggle Shortcut: Shift + NumLock
    – Luigi Siri
    Jan 20, 2014 at 14:09
  • how do i make this change if i'm using icewm?
    – nnyby
    Oct 22, 2015 at 19:29

I'll post another answer because it took me ages to figure it out. It appears that things have been moved around a bit in recent releases. The "Mouse Keys" tab wasn't there in my Keyboard preferences (Ubuntu 11.10, gnome shell), so @JavierRivera's solution set me on the right track, but didn't solve the problem of turning off the "control pointer using keypad" option. This is where I did find it:

Settings > Universal Access > Pointing and Clicking

I also enabled "Numeric keypad keys work as with Macintosh" since I'm using an imac keyboard. This option is found in:

Settings > Keyboard Layout > Layouts > Options > Miscellaneous compatibility options

which seems to be necessary for me.

  • This method works for Ubuntu 12.04-- I didn't have the same menu layout as the accepted answer here (older version of Ubuntu); had the same issue.
    – papashou
    Apr 30, 2012 at 3:13

For Ubuntu 12.10:

  • Click on the System Menu -> System Settings -> Universal Access -> Point and Clicking

  • Turn "Mouse Keys" off


If you are using XFCE4 (e.g. Xubuntu):

  • Go to Settings Manager > Accessibility > Mouse
  • Uncheck "Use mouse emulation"; if it is already unchecked, first check it, and then uncheck it (I suppose, for whatever reason, the GUI doesn't know the the Numpad is emulating the mouse)

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