I've been looking at gaming keyboards to use on Ubuntu system.

Microsoft has a few popular ones (e.g., Sidewinder X4, X6), but the programmable function keys appear to be unusable without the Windows software. (Though here's a post from someone who has a more recent project that uses usbmon and xdotool to add functions to some keys.)

Another choice in my budget is the Cyborg V.05. It seems about right for my needs, but I would be depressed having a bunch of useless, nonprogrammable keys on it.
Logitech has some models (e.g., the Logitech G110), though again I expect that the extensive macro capabilities (which I don't need) would be lost under Linux. There's a project called g15tools which has some code to work with older Logitech gaming models, but I don't know what the current status is. Last entry there was in March 2010. There are also a number of very old posts around the internet with regard to the Logitech G11 and G15. Compatibility with the current keyboards, Ubuntu version, and Linux kernel are suspect.

I'm in the U.S., and so it appears that few of the Roccat keyboards are available, and they're over-priced. Support might be OK for these, though -- there's a short Phoronix article about Roccat improving their Linux support, and there's also a project and webpage for "Using Roccat Hardware with Linux".

Honestly, the only feature I have to have is good backlighting for the keys, and if it's not wired (which is fine), the wireless capability should function. I could probably live with dead function keys, as long as they weren't in places that would interfere with things like Unity/compiz shortcuts.

Any experience or suggestions?

I've not seen much to inspire confidence with programmable/macro keys. There is a thread (with no solutions) on the Sidewinder X4 on ubuntuforums here.

I'm also considering the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard as a possibility, even though it's not specifically a gaming keyboard. It is backlit, and it's supposed to be a nice keyboard.

  • you can use windows inside a virtual machine with usb passthrough to configure the keyboard using its software – Suici Doga Jul 29 '17 at 4:31

I know this is an old thread, but I would like to toss in my three cents, adjusted for inflation.

I personally run Ubuntu 13.10 in a home-built quad core gaming rig, which used to run Windows 7 Ultimate x64. I reformatted and installed Ubuntu about eight months ago, and I haven't looked back since. I use a Razer Lycosa backlit keyboard with a matching Razer Imperator mouse, and both work flawlessly. I don't use the built in macros on the keyboard, so I can't vouch for that. What I can vouch for, is the backlighting works perfectly, the multimedia keys are flawless, and the anti-ghosting is excellent. I'm an exceptionally fast typer (90-105 wpm) and this baby never flunks out on me. I've had serious issues with Logitech boards dogging out when I'm in "beast mode," typing reports, papers, etc. I don't get that with my Lycosa.

The extra USB port, as well as headphone and mic jacks also work on the back of the keyboard, because they're just extensions/pass throughs from the back of the tower. When you hook up the Lycosa to your PC, you have two USB ports, as well as a mic and headphone jack to plug in as well.

In conclusion, the keyboard works perfectly out of the box for Ubuntu, unless you HAVE to have the macros. I'm pretty sure you can plug it into a Windows machine for configuration, and then plug it back into your linux box to use them, since your macros are stored in the keyboard itself.

The Razer Imperator mouse also works like a dream in Linux. Since it was first used on a windows machine, the DPI settings were already loaded into the mouse's memory. Once plugged into ubuntu, no software was needed because the Imperator is hardware based. The DPI adjusters on the spine of the mouse still work flawlessly, as well as the extra thumb-buttons for back and forward, or whatever you choose to run there. All of the lights work, and I've had absolutely no mishaps on either device.

I hope this helps at least one person out there. If so, my work here is done. :-)

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I tried a Razer Arctosa once, and it ran fine without any issues. It does not have any programmable keys, so I can't vouch for that, but the backlight & the multimedia keys ran fine.

I'm pretty sure that would be the case with other models as well. A little bit of searching reveals the following blog post, which mentions the additional USB and headphone jacks not working on Ubuntu for a Razer Lycosa.

My advice would be to try them out before buying them. Hardware compliance with Ubuntu is not something very strong at the moment, esp in the Gaming sector.

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  • As far as I can tell, the current Arctosa does not have backlit keys, but does have (windows) programmable keys : store.razerzone.com/store/razerusa/en_US/pd/productID.169415000 – belacqua Sep 8 '11 at 20:25
  • Also, I may be missing something, but how does 'try before you buy' work with a Linux desktop system? Not only are selections limited at many stores, but I can't see myself carrying my system inside. Unless you mean, buy, try, and return if it doesn't work out.... – belacqua Sep 8 '11 at 20:28
  • It seems I'm mistaken with the model. I'll check up & let you know. As to the 'try before yoy buy', I meant it like finding a friend who has the same keyboard, and trying it on your laptop. – Nemo Sep 8 '11 at 20:49
  • Oh, and klj613 has a Razer Lycosa Mirror as per this question – Nemo Sep 8 '11 at 20:51
  • 1
    And another question says Razer Laches does not work. – Nemo Sep 8 '11 at 22:31

I ended up trying then sticking with mechanical keyboards. These worked "out of the box" with Linux/Ubuntu -- no problems. They are a step up in terms of durability (with the mechanical switches rated for tens of millions of keystrokes), and many, including the ones I use, have "n-key rollover" -- if you hit several keys at once, they all register flawlessly.

The only issue I had to correct was the scroll lock key and light not functioning correctly (and this fix is documented elsewhere). I've ended up using two keyboards -- a very nice black Leopold, and a flashier Cooler Master "CM Storm". Both are 87-key "tenkeyless" keyboards. (I'd also recommend looking at WASD Keyboards, which I didn't go with simply because they stocked only full-size boards.)

The 87-key keyboards don't have the number-pad, so you get full-size keys but with a smaller footprint. This is especially nice because you can (assuming you use your right hand for the mouse) get your mouse in closer to the keyboard. This is more ergonomic, and it may keep your arm and hand from tiring as quickly. I opted for Cherry MX brown keyswitches, but a lot of gamers prefer the MX black switches.

Ultimately, I opted not to get backlit keys, but there are several mechanical keyboards that have lighting of various or variable shades.

Also of note: I tried the Cyborg keyboard mentioned in the question, and was not happy (I returned it). It felt too cheaply made for what it cost, and I thought the backlighting was blurry and distracting.

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  • How did you resolve the scroll lock light not working properly? I am having the same issue on my Gigabyte Aivia Osmium! – Max Beikirch May 18 '14 at 21:53
  • Try the instructions here: handsomeplanet.com/page/2 . Let me know if those don't work, and I'll see if I can find a workaround. – belacqua May 19 '14 at 15:52
  • Hello und thank you very much for your help! I tried the instuction for the scroll lock-key too, the light does still not work. Additionally, the num lock-lights and caps lock-lights do not work either, although the key themselves do. Under windows, the keyboard works flawlessly. Interestingly enough: When I switch to a terminal via Ctrl+Alt+F1, the num lock-light and the scroll lock-light actually do work (Still, the caps lock-light remains black).... Any idea, what is going wrong here? :) Are there any more commands that I can check? xmodmap was a good one. – Max Beikirch May 20 '14 at 16:17
  • Ok, that's odd. Try looking for similar questions: askubuntu.com/search?q=scroll+lock , or open your own. It could be keyboard specific, but there is probably more troubleshooting that can be done. Reference this question and/or other questions you look at if you open a new one. – belacqua May 20 '14 at 16:36

Please have a look at this.

I implemented a user space driver for the Microsoft Sidewinder X6. Has all the same functionality as the windows drivers with the exception of macro recording and run button.

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Roccat hardware support is great, thanks to Stefan Achatz
& Roccats high end feature's are awesome
but they are costly!
may i suggest some cheap chinese mechanical keyboards, because they tend to use standard drivers

but i personally use all there hardware & i love it

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