Tip

USB keyboards and miceare more common in the Macintosh market, so you might find a greater selection of these devices in the Macintosh section of your local computer superstore. Macintosh keyboards have slightly different keys than do PC keyboards, though. Specifically, Macintosh keyboards have no Windows key, and they have a Command key (imprinted with a cloverleaf design) instead of an Alt key. This difference is largely cosmetic. A bonus to buying a Macintosh USB keyboard is that Macintosh USB keyboards usually include a 2-port USB hub, which increases the number of USB devices you can attach to your computer. Macintosh USB mice should work fine on x86 hardware, but many of these devices have only one button, which is insufficient for Linux.

Linux's USB support is rudimentary at best in the 2.2.x kernels. The 2.3.x development kernels include support for many USB devices, so the 2.4.x kernel will almost certainly include YB stable USB support. Fortunately, USB keyboards and mice were some of the first USB devices

Part IV

to gain support in Linux, so these devices are well supported. Unfortunately, this support is still fairly new, so many x86 distributions don't support USB keyboards and mice during installation. If you want to use a USB keyboard or mouse, therefore, you might need to install Linux using conventional devices and then swap in the USB devices after you've installed Linux and perhaps recompiled the kernel. Fortunately, this situation is likely to improve in the near future, so you should check your distribution's list of supported hardware to see if USB devices are supported from the start.

One protocol supports all USB keyboards, and another supports all USB mice. You therefore don't need to deal with selecting a special protocol for each brand or model device. (You do need to select a USB keyboard's country codes, though.) The USB mouse protocol is modeled after that for PS/2 mice, so you can configure XFree86 just as you would for a PS/2 mouse, except that you specify a different device file.

USB connectors come in two varieties, known as Series A and Series B, both of which are shown in Figure 15.4. Motherboard USB ports normally accept Series A connectors, so this is the type you'll find on mice. Some external devices, such as scanners and printers, often use detachable USB cables, and these devices often have Series B connectors.

Figure 15.4

You'll find a Series A USB connector (left) on the end of a USB mouse or keyboard's cable. Series B connectors (right) are used on external devices that use detachable USB cables.

Figure 15.4

You'll find a Series A USB connector (left) on the end of a USB mouse or keyboard's cable. Series B connectors (right) are used on external devices that use detachable USB cables.

Chapter 15

Macintosh Mouse and Keyboard Ports

Macintoshes have existed in a world of their own in terms of mice and keyboards for a long time. These computers have used the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) to support both keyboards and mice. Ports of Linux to the Macintosh therefore support ADB devices natively.

More recently, Apple has abandoned ADB in favor of USB. In fact, this shift has helped spur development of Linux USB support, especially for keyboards and mice. Versions of Linux for PowerPC computers come with sufficient USB support to use USB keyboards and mice from the start, and often to use additional USB components. If you have an iMac or another USB-enabled Macintosh, therefore, you shouldn't be concerned about Linux's USB support for your keyboard and mouse.

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