Is there a special reason why NUMLOCK is disabled/turned off by default?

It feels like (when searching the internet) most users (including me) wants to enable it by default.

  • 1
    are you looking for a reason or do you want to enable it on log-on?
    – Ron
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 7:31
  • It is a bios setting on my machine ;-)
    – Rinzwind
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 7:56
  • i just want a good reason. i found out how to enable..but many people were asking how to enable...so i don't understand why it is disabled.
    – Ben
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:00
  • @rinzwind: this is also activated in my bios. but after KDE/LXDE starts, it is turned off.
    – Ben
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:05
  • 1
    It may not be the answer, but a curious related thing: once I read an article by a college professor talking about ecology and how much energy it would save if all keyboards in the world didn't have the leds on by default...
    – Ricardo
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


To enable it do those commands (install package called numlockx)

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

check this community wiki https://help.ubuntu.com/community/NumLock for more information

Why numlock is disabled by default?

I think because of some laptops and netbooks keyboards require numlock to be disabled to function all keys.

For example look at this laptop keyboard, When enabled, NumLock lets you use the 7-8-9, u-i-o, j-k-l and m keys as a numeric keypad.

enter image description here

  • i think it is possible to identify/detect the keyboard-layout (number of keys). based on this, the default could be changed. (see Windows)
    – Ben
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:08
  • sure it's possible but i think this is case why numlock is disabled by default
    – Maythux
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:10
  • 7
    Further: Why is Ubuntu not using BIOS Setting as default?
    – Ben
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:24
  • 2
    @NewUSer can you fix the sed command (last line in the answer above)? It looks truncated (e.g. single quote not closed). Thanks.
    – arielf
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 18:49
  • 2
    Although you can determine the type of keyboard, bear in mind that people often add a second USB keyboard. In those cases, there is no way for the system to predict which keyboard the user will use. I have seen just this problem with someone who was using a Windows computer and two keyboards; he would have been fine with Ubuntu. Commented May 12, 2015 at 6:39

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