Hardware keyboards on Cyanogenmod 12.1

Recently, I have been forced to finally replace my old and not-so-trusty N900 with something a little more up-to-date. I ended up with Nvidia Shield Tablet. You can get these for great price, if you are lucky, because of the global tablet recall. The old tablets can survive this procedure and seem to be working well.

I have installed recent build of unofficial Cyanogenmod 12.1 (it is getting official now, great work, Steel01!). It works pretty well (will write another post about that soon), but using it as a remote ssh console proved to be a bit disappointing. The bluetooth keyboard I got for it with emphasis of it having F keys is working quite well .. except for F keys.

First I tried the ConnectBot application. The only way you send F key to an application is to emulate the button by using combination – shift+<number> or ctrl+<number>. You can even choose which combination suits you better, but the support for actual F keys is just not there. The same thing goes for VX ConnectBot. However, while using “Terminal Emulator”, F keys function just fine …but the ncurses support is crappy.

Using Midnight Commander on remote ssh session in Terminal Emulator

Using Midnight Commander on remote ssh session in Terminal Emulator

Well, that is a disappointment. What now? The same thing goes for actual PC keyboards connected via USB, btw.

Other than that, using hardware keyboards still feels like something unnatural, something the system was not developed for.

For example, there are several keyboard shortcuts in android, for example Alt+Tab for switching windows. However, there is usually some catch involved. In this case by pressing Alt+Tab repeatedly, you actually are switching windows, but only “one way”. When you get to the end of window list, it does not return to the beginning. Instead, you have to hold Alt and use “up” and “down” keys. What the hell? And the list of glitches and missing features goes on and on. Basically, using hardware keyboard for anything else than actual text input does not work properly.

And for the actual text input.. even if you have hardware keyboard attached, the software keyboard keeps popping up every time there some text field gets active. In some cases it is probably an actual bug, for example “Hacker’s keyboard” has a setting for disabling software keyboard while the hardware one is attached. It does not seem to be working, though. One option should be installing some sort of null keyboard, eg. a keyboard that shows no output while activated. Haven’t tried that yet, though.

Conclusion: I miss my N900

EDIT: Hiding software keyboard after detecting external keyboard keypress works properly with AnySoftKeyboard. But the better option is to untick “Show input method” in “Hardware” line of the “Change keyboard” dialog, which you can open after connecting the hardware keyboard and clicking the keyboard button on the lower right corner of the screen. After that the software keyboard simply does not appear with the external one connected. Exactly what I was looking for!

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