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Input Devices

Does Your PC Really Need a SysRq Button Anymore? 806

An anonymous reader writes "Ever wondered what the SysRq key on your keyboard does? Lenovo has decided it's so rarely used that it has started removing the key from some new Thinkpad Edge laptops. We already know that Lenovo are something of the fastidious scientists when it comes to keyboard design. Last time they fiddled with the age-old key layout, it was after painstaking research to count exactly how many times users press the Delete and Escape keys. Now it seems another relic of computer keyboards is starting to disappear."
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Does Your PC Really Need a SysRq Button Anymore?

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  • by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:04AM (#30764182)
    On my laptop, I use it to toggle VMs. It's perfect because on my machine, it does absolutely nothing. Double scroll lock is the next best bet for me, but my keyboard requires me to press the Fn key simultaneously.

    Is Lenovo leaving any "useless" keys? Some of us actually NEED keys that are otherwise never used and the OSes recognize by default.
  • Caps Lock Key (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:07AM (#30764234) Homepage

    The only people I know who use the Caps Lock Key are AOLers. Anyone who needs a Caps Lock Key for legitimate technical reasons can buy a specialized keyboard for that purpose. That's no reason for the key to be inflicted on the rest of us.

  • Print Screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:07AM (#30764240)

    That is the Print Screen key. Don't ever remove that key from the keyboard! I don't care that the word "SysRq" is written below "Print Screen" on that key. Feel free to remove that "SysRq" word from there, but do NOT remove the handy print screen key! Thanks.

  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:13AM (#30764324)
    I don't know, but having different keys for backspace and delete on mine would be very nice...
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:13AM (#30764338)

    I keep seeing these, and I wonder how long it will be until we have nothing but a blackberry style keyboard.

    I guess I can't complain since I still use my Model M and LK463 keyboards, but laptops are getting to the point that the function keys are all remapped to random tasks (brightness, volume, etc) and we keep seeing random multi-media keys... yet stuff like num lock, scroll lock, print screen, break is getting pulled.

    Maybe most suits don't spend anytime dealing with text? Powerpoint doesn't recognize break?

  • Probably not. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lorg ( 578246 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:15AM (#30764372)

    The people in the market segment for the Lenovo Laptops probably don't need the SysRq button (nor Print Screen). I'm fairly sure you could remove a bunch of other buttons they don't need beyond that one to. 12 function keys? the "Scroll Lock" and "Pause/Break" probably doesn't do much either - but they might already be gone.

    The question is what are you going to replace them with? I don't really need a shortcut button to check my email or whatever either. Plus removing keys and moving them around really screws up the layout and has a serious negative impact on my type-speed.

  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:16AM (#30764398)

    If this change is indicative of what'll happen to the "serious business" series (T, X, R), then the ThinkPad has, after some 18 years or so, finally jumped the shark.

    One of the main selling points of a ThinkPad was the keyboard. When all the other brands went completely nuts and placed the PrtSc/ScrLk/Pause/Insert/Delete/Home/End/PgUp and PgDn keys at a whim, on a ThinkPad you could blindly hit the spot where the key was supposed to be and actually hit it. They were quite [] proud [] of that, and nobody minded.
    Now, you get a chiclet keyboard with the F-keys disabled by default and six rows. Well, congrats Lenovo, you've just went from top-of-the-line in 2010 to consumer-grade-sony-vaio in 1999 or so.

    Another thing were the displays. Great, high-resolution, matte 4:3 screens one could work with. I own a 12" X61 with 1050 horizontal lines. Nowadays, it's WXGA with less than 800 lines in everything up to 14.1", and half of the models come in glare-type finish. Thanks to the shiny finish you can't see the screen contents anyways, so that slightly mitigates the lack of resolution.

    What's next, Lenovo? Get rid of the high-quality finish of the Notebooks and switch to cheap plastic? Fuck up the support infrastructure IBM built? Oh wait, already happened. I guess it's down to the nipple mouse as the last true hallmark of a ThinkPad. And that, I won't give up 'til you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  • PrintScreen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:21AM (#30764504) Homepage Journal

    I don't care about SysRq but I don't mind it sharing space with PrintScreen. And don't you dare taking my PrintScreen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:28AM (#30764640)

    Getting rid of floppy drives was considered a drastic move at the time because some people used them. Just because "some" people use it doesn't mean its useful

  • What key again? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:29AM (#30764676) Journal

    I'm looking down at my vanilla Logitech keyboard and I don't see any key with "SysRq" on it.

    So I guess I don't need one.

  • ctrl alt backspace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jackflap ( 715225 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:36AM (#30764794)
    cool, can we now have ctrl+alt+backspace to restart the xserver back in please?

    one of the main arguments was that we could use the never-working sysrq+blahblha combination to do the same thing..
  • by Tomahawk ( 1343 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:38AM (#30764826) Homepage

    One major ilk I have about laptop keyboard is the positioning of the CTRL and Fn keys.

    I was in a shop recently that sold laptops of many different brands. All of them, except Lenovo, had the CTRL key as the first key in the row, with the Fn key to the right of it. This, IMHO, is the correct position for it - it's where my little finger automatically goes for CTRL, and where it is located on a 'normal' keyboard.

    Lenovo had the Fn key first, with the CTRL key to the right, meaning that when you go to hit CTRL-, I hit Fn instead. This, for me, is a major factor is choosing what laptop to buy - if the CTRL key is in the wrong place, it's marked off the list immediately.

    funny story:
    Several years ago, for work, I got a Compaq Evo N620c (which I still use for work). While the Fn and CTRL keys are in the wrong place, at least they have the forethought to allow you to swap them in the BIOS, which I naturally did.
    Now, the laptop was to be reburned, so the Service Desk took it in. When I went to pick it up the next day, they had a normal keyboard plugged into the PS/2 socket. I asked them why, and they told me that the CTRL key was broken and they couldn't use CTRL-ALT-DEL (yes, it's Windows. *sigh*)
    So firstly I explained to them that the CTRL and Fn keys were swapped in the BIOS, and then asked the question "Why didn't you just use the CTRL key on the other side of the keyboard?" (which, when tried, worked perfectly).


  • Re:Debug key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:50AM (#30765074) Homepage Journal

    It's just like every other key on your keyboard -- what it does is up to the programmer. Why do OSes use alt-tab to switch between applications, when SysReq is a logical choice? Why did they add that stuupid "windows key" when, again, SysReq would serve perfectly adequately?

    I'd posit that Scroll Lock has been the useless key ever since they started putting the numeric keypad separate from the navigation keys. I always fond it maddening that Bios manufacturers and Microsoft had the numeric keypad set to "cursor key mode" by default, despite the fact that there's a separate set of cursor keys. Most PCs I'd have to change the default in the BIOS, and it would still be in cursor mode on starting Windows and I had to change it there, too.

    Some of you guys that make these decisions annoy me to no end.

  • Re:Debug key (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lcarnevale ( 1691570 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:51AM (#30765094)
    Yeap, I agree, the Magic SysRq key may be used little if at all (I don't remember the last time I used it), but maybe the solution is not removing the key because is not used, instead try to finding it a use.
  • Re:I've used it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baKanale ( 830108 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:58AM (#30765258)

    A good mnemonic for this is that REISUB is "busier" spelt backwards. (Raising Elephants Is So Utterly Boring is another common mnemonic.)

    I always liked Reboot Even If System Utterly Broken, since that's kinda what REISUB does. But hey, any mnemonic that helps you remember is a good mnemonic, right?

  • by troll8901 ( 1397145 ) * <> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#30765420) Journal

    Would you like to share a bit more with us? On how we can set and use the modifiers - whether in Windows, GNOME, or whatever.

    Yes, I can Google for it, but I'd rather hear it from someone experienced.

  • Re:Debug key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onepoint ( 301486 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:08PM (#30765434) Homepage Journal

    Well, outside of slashdot user-base ( the users of slashdot are primarily composed of higher educated, much more computer skilled users, whom, can do more with there computers in a day than most people in a week ) the SysRq key is a key of use. as for the rest of 99.44% of people it's a non-issue

    Anyway, most of the users of slashdot would know to custom build there own developmental workstation platform and would order that specific type of keyboard.

    it's wonderful to see that the users here battle it out for keyboard layout preferences.

    heck if I was a manufacture of anything related to computers, I would first spend a month researching slashdot just to find idea's and trying to fill them.

  • by Ralphus Maximus ( 594419 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:10PM (#30765458)
    For the love of $deity, but the CTRL key back where it frakkin' belongs, next to the frakkin' A key!

    Seriously. CTRL-key combo's are much easier to press, while touch typing, when the CTRL key is just to the left of the A key.

  • by hudsucker ( 676767 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:14PM (#30765526)
    With careful timing, all you need is the 1 key.
  • Re:Debug key (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:16PM (#30765556)
    You're compiling kernels on the road?
  • by TrevorDoom ( 228025 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:30PM (#30765802)

    On Windows Vista/7, you can use the Clipper Tool to do a grab of a window with a menu dropped down.

  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:43PM (#30766080)

    But it doesn't need it's own special key. Any combination of keys could be programmed to send the PRTSCR keycode, without needing a dedicated key.

    Also true for every other key. In fact, you could just have one key and if you keep hitting it it cycles through all of the keycodes until you get to the one you want. Then you pause and go on to the next one. Seems very elegant to me. Put the most-used characters at the front of the list: etaoin...

  • Re:Debug key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@pi t a b r e d . d> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:57PM (#30766330) Homepage

    ...too easy to hit by mistake? I have never, ever even come close to hitting ctrl+alt+bksp by mistake. I mean... how would you actually go about doing that?

  • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:03PM (#30766428)

    And why stop there? Lenovo has also asked itself how often users press the F Function keys. On the new laptops, the F Function buttons are reduced to secondary controls, in place of laptop controls like screen brightness. Now, you'll need to hold the Fn button to use keys like F11 (while screen brightness can be pressed without holding Fn).

    Now that is a dumb decision. I use function keys all the time, and having to hold some other key for them to work would definitely be a dealbreaker. My Microsoft keyboard has an "F Lock" key which is like the Fn key but toggleable (think Caps Lock instead of Shift). That's a much better design.

  • by molafish ( 860593 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:20PM (#30766752)
    Consequently I will not be purchasing a Thinkpad Edge. I've had to reboot a redhat machine repeatedly with the magic sysreq keys lately. Just throwing this useful key away is a mistake. I don't understand what it benefits them anyway, since it's just some extra silkscreen on an existing button that does see use and another scan code in their hardware.
  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:40PM (#30767076)
    So you configure it to some other, rarely used key.
  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @02:25PM (#30767938)
    The key I most despise is that stupid Windows button. I never knew (or cared) what it did, even on Windows boxes. Next is the Caps Lock key, which I simply disable, since the only times I have ever used it were by accident.
  • Re:Debug key (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ekdar ( 1237418 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @03:39PM (#30769332)
    Vast majority of the keys appear to have no Fn capability at all, so the issue seems to be more about aesthetics (or something) than space.

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