Same keyboard failure on 2 Librem 15v4 laptops

After some months (probably not years) of aging, the keyboard on Librem 15v4 starts acting up. This can result in keys that suddenly repeat like:


(which I’ve mentioned previously) but the initial symptom seems to be one and the same: sudden zoom in or out. I’ll be using a browser (any major one) and suddenly the text zoom goes from 100% to 400% or 50% or something. It’s infuriating. Then I’ll reset it back, and it will happen again sometime later. It seems to occur in bursts, perhaps influenced by temperature, but I’m not sure.

AFAIK the normal way to do this would be Ctrl+Shift+(+) and Ctrl+Shift+(-). Perhaps there’s something about those combos which is easily confused with a quiescent keyboard state in which no button is being pressed. (Like maybe they differ from some inert state by a single bit lane that heats up and misfires.) If you know some other key combo that can be used to zoom, please let me know.

I’ve disabled the trackpad (because it has disruptive quality problems as well) so at least I’m pretty confident that it’s not to blame.

I guess I’m stuck with the random zooming unless I recompile my browser or hack the kernel, unless someone knows how to block receipt of these key combos.

As to the source of the damage, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it has something to do with occasional minor water penetration due to various beverage accidents. Although it’s weird that the same problem would occur on 2 different machines, which suggests that there’s some weak link or noisy trace somewhere that bites the dust before anything else, and is perhaps due to thermal wear as opposed to liquid exposure.

This is why I would like to reiterate my support for a fully water resistant keyboard in the next laptop generation (and especially one that doesn’t leak LED light out out the sides of the keys, which is visually annoying). Or at least as an upgrade option. Take my money. Just don’t zoom my browser without my permission.

Possibly related:

Did you try to reach to Purism for the warranty repair?

Unfortunately, that would be too disruptive.

I literally just started noticing random plus and minus characters printing out. And also that tapping Ctrl or Shift can unstick the UI sometimes. So it really does seems as though the key combos I mentioned are “happening” and getting stuck down for some brief duration.

Sounds like you need a new keyboard. Maybe use an external one for a while to see if it’s hard- or software.

Does it ever happen in an application other than the browser?

The keys for zoom in/out in Firefox are Ctrl/+ and Ctrl/- respectively.

I don’t know how to disable this in Firefox (or change the key combinations) but the hack way of doing so is to set zoom.maxPercent and zoom.minPercent both to 100. (The out-of-the-box defaults are 500 and 30.) I totally understand that this is not fixing your problem. It is just (perhaps) making it easier to live with.

PS The mousewheel, if present, could also be a wildcard in this puzzle.

I ran into keyboard and touchpad problems on my Librem 15v4 soon after purchase. Based on some forum posts and the fact that I had just added a SATA SSD, I decided that maybe some of the many tiny screws weren’t tightened correctly. I fiddled around with them until the problem went away. It hasn’t happened since, but I’ve been treating it with kid gloves and have been afraid to open it since. Really disappointing because “easy” access to parts was a major point in my purchase decision. It also has me leery of buying a Librem 14.

Oh it’s definitely hardware. I guess I could unscrew the chassis and unplug the keyboard ribbon cable, then plug in a USB keyboard externally. Oh but then where will I put my tea? Decisions, decisions…

Good point! That’s a simpler explanation than Ctrl+Shift. Therefore it must be the + and - keys on the number pad that are trigger happy.

Any idea where to change those values in Firefox? A config file somewhere?

I’m virtually certain that it’s not the mousewheel because I don’t get random scrolling.

Yeah, j_s, I think this could well be a mechanical (read: trace flexing) issue. The case is too flexible and the screws don’t perfectly align, so I could see that happening. I’m super careful to minimize handling for exactly this reason, but I still have to move it here and there sometimes. Probably the + and - keys are somehow local to the worst affected area. I did tighten the screws but it didn’t help.

Sorry. Just type about:config in the Firefox address bar, press Enter, promise that you will be careful :wink:, type the preference name into the preference name input field (only the minimum abbreviation of the name is needed - and in this case just typing zoom.m is best because then both required preferences will come up), press the pencil button (“Edit”) on the right hand side, type in the new value into the value input field and press Enter.

1 Like

Try loosening them too. May be part of the keyboard is getting squished.


Yeah, that is the delimma. How much is just right?

Got it, thank you!

Yeah this is an important point. I remember how I could actually loosen the screws on motherboards sometimes and make them come back to life. The whole chassis needs finer tolerances and better construction (and no screws at weird angles subject to sheer). Hopefully in the next iteration.