Num-Lock in GNOME

I finally convinced Deb to start using Linux recently, and for the most part the transition seems to have been reasonably smooth. Part of that is because we have been using Firefox and Thunderbird for several years on both the WinXP and Linux side of our primary computer. Part of it, too, is that GNOME is intuitive enough for most people in moving into Linux that the user interface doesn’t present a significant hurdle.

She recently made a comment about a small annoyance that hadn’t ever registered on me. “The number pad doesn’t work”, she said. “Just hit the ‘Num-Lock’ key”, I responded. “Yeah, but I don’t have to do that when I use Windows!”, she fired back. And, thus, the gauntlet had been thrown down.

After some rooting around in all of the nooks and crannies of the GNOME interface, configuration, and settings, and following a bit of Googling, I came up with this:

  1. Install package “numlockx”
  2. Open the GNOME “Sessions” applet (usually found under “Preferences” in the GNOME menus)
  3. Select the “Startup Programs” tab
  4. Add a new startup program called “Turn on Num-Lock” that runs /usr/bin/numlockx on
  5. Close the Sessions applet
  6. Sign out; sign back in

Et voila! Annoyance gone… of course, you have to do this in each account where you want the Num-Lock key enabled by default.

Now we wait and see if she notices…