Slim Aluminum Apple Keyboard under Ubuntu

As previously blogged my wife bought me a Slim Aluminum Apple Keyboard which I’ve been slowly configuring to work with Ubuntu and now I believe I’ve gotten a sweet configuration, to the point where I’m now more comfortable with my Apple keyboard than the standard Dell keyboard I use at work.

Slim Apple Aluminum Keyboard

Initially there were a couple of quirks about the Apple keyboard under Ubuntu. I’ve only used this under Interpid and Jaunty. I believe that there are some basic issues with this keyboard in Hardy due to the version of the kernel it’s running.

Let’s begin. Firstly the keyboard function keys only worked when the Fn key is pressed. Ideally I’d rather press the Fn key to access the extra function like Brightness, Volume, etc. The solution is really simple. Add the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/apple_kbd.conf.


options hid pb_fnmode=2


options hid_apple fnmode=2

Now run the following command to make this change persist across reboots.

sudo update-initramfs -k `uname -r` -u

Reboot to take effect.

The second problem was a little more confusing. Basically the Apple keyboard doesn’t appear have a # key!

Hint: It does, it’s just not printed on the key.

I initially installed Ubuntu with the United Kingdom keyboard. So the following are the steps I followed to allow me to overcome this issue …

  1. Select System > Preferences > Keyboard
  2. Go to the Layouts tab
  3. Click Add
  4. Under the By country tab I chose Country: United Kingdom and Variant: United Kingdom Macintosh
  5. Click Layout Options…
  6. Under Miscellaneous compatibility options, select both Default numeric keypad keys and Numeric keypad keys work as with Mac
  7. I then removed the old United Kingdom keyboard layout.

Now with the new United Kingdom Macintosh layout enabled you can get a # symbol by pressing Right-Alt + 3. You can now also get the € symbol by pressing Right-Alt + 2

That’s it.

  • Thanks for these instructions, The Mac keyboard is a joy to use with Ubuntu and this help getting the chars all lined up.

    I previously had to hunt so hard to get the unix shell chars “|” Pipe and “~” Tilde as well as “#” hash often resorting to cut and paste from another document.

    Also helps take the keyboard confusion out of using the same keyboard for 3 machines (Mac,Ubuntu,Win7) using a Belkin Soho Switch.

    Now with “#” located next to “$” where has “£” gone ? a favourite of us Brits ?



  • Hi Alan
    Thanks for the little HOWTO, it was everything that I needed to get the keyboard working. The hash key confused the hell out of me too!