My new Sun keyboard arrived today (left). Not quite what they advertised (right):
In particular, the Return key is completely different, and that was one of the aspects I looked at before ordering it. I'll have to see whether I can come to terms with it or not. In addition, it has British key caps (£ over the 3 key, for example), and there's at least one extra key to the left of the Z key, marked \ and |, but in the default map it produces < and >.
The correct way to handle these keyboards is in the X configuration, but that would mean restarting X, something I'm reluctant to do. So I just plugged it in to see what it would do.
It worked! It seems that just about all the keys that correspond to a normal modern PC keyboard also generate the same codes. The ones on the left, of course, generate ones that the default X configuration doesn't know. But that's what xmodmap is for. So I played around with that for a while, not helped by the fact that it doesn't know whether to output in hex or decimal:
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 16 -> xmodmap -pk | grep Control
66 0xffe3 (Control_L) 0x0000 (NoSymbol) 0xffe3 (Control_L)
109 0xffe4 (Control_R) 0x0000 (NoSymbol) 0xffe4 (Control_R)
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 17 -> xmodmap | grep Control
control Control_L (0x42), Control_R (0x6d)
It wasn't that difficult to remap everything, and now I have a keymap file that will do the mapping. I've mapped the 10 keys to the left of the main keyboard to F1 to F10. On my old keyboard I have the keys F11 and F12 where the Help key is, but no Esc key to the right, so I've mapped Help to F11 and Esc to F12. Ugly, but it works.
Somehow, though, it marks the end of an era. Commercial computers have been around since UNIVAC I in 1950, about 62 years. I have used the same keyboards, from Northgate and Avant, for 22 years, over a third of that time.
And how do I like the keyboard? It's much quieter than the Northgate, and it doesn't feel quite the same. In the course of time I'll get used to the different places for some keys. And I have a whole lot of keys that I could use for strange remappings.