jb’s open source blog

A look into my work and play in open source

(UNSOLVED) Shift/Capslock/Ctrl/Alt keys don’t work after using VMWare Server

with 4 comments

Warning: This is a “noise” post (as opposed to “signal”). I have no solution for this yet.

Problem: When using VMWare Server 1.06 on Ubuntu Hardy 8.04, going into full screen mode, and using the Ctrl-Alt “release cursor” keyboard sequence, all modifier keys stop functioning. Can’t use Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get out of X, or Alt-F2, or Shift at the terminal, etc. etc. This seems to only affect users running Xorg 7.3.

Many more details here:
Ubuntu #195982: Shift key (and caps lock) stop working when using VMWare

Terrible workaround #1:

Running setxkbmap at the console will restore the keys. Unfortunately, getting to the console might be more than difficult without any modifier keys. Therefore, create a launcher on your GNOME panel (or desktop or whatever) that runs setxkbmap. You will have to click this launcher every time you switch to and from VMWare console.

Alternately, use rdesktop (mstsc) or vnc where possible, which avoids the issue altogether.


  • Unlike others who have commented, I am not using evdev for my keyboard, rather the kbd driver.
  • Going to System->Preferences->Keyboard->Layouts has a “Selected layouts” list. USA is there and it is not selected as the default. Selecting it does NOT fix the problem, contrary to some reports.
  • It happens whether you run VMWare Tools or not.
  • As a terribly wonderful side effect, GTK apps (read: gnome-terminal) may segfault on any keypress, when the modifier keys aren’t set (you can the list is empty by looking at xmodmap). This is apparently fixed in a GTK development tree somewhere, but hasn’t reached Ubuntu yet.
  • Removing old GTK libraries in /usr/lib/vmware/lib was also a dead end.
  • Editing /etc/vmware/config (or ~/.vmware/config) to add xkeymap.keycode does not help (even after modifying the keycodes to reflect output from xev).

Other people with the same problem:
Web 0.2 – VMware modifier keys bug status
nthrbldyblg – VMWare and the fubar keyboard effect
VMWare Communities – VMware Causing Keyboard Issues in Ubuntu


Written by jbopensrc

July 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Linux, Unsolved, VMWare

4 Responses

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  1. I’m also facing the same issue. Somehow, got Vmware working in 2.6.26-5 kernel today. But looks like the frequency of the issues increased after this. Earlier it was once or twice in a day. Now, every few mins this is happenning.


    Ravnidran K

    August 9, 2008 at 11:54 pm

  2. VMWare on linux has all sorts of terribly messed up keyboard problems. If your linux machine is a synergy client, modifier keys will not at all work in the guest OS.


    February 3, 2009 at 6:24 pm

  3. Guess what …

    I’m typing this on Ubuntu Karmic with the 2.6.31 kernel and VMWare Server 2.0.2 and I’m experiencing the same issues :-(


    January 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

  4. You will probably notice that when you are in your VM all works fine, but when you are in the native OS you see the problem. To fix… In the native OS (linux), in a shell, run setxkbmap and the problem will go away.


    February 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm

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