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I used xev to try to capture the keycode, but I don't get any output from it. I get output for the rest of the keys I checked. This happened after my system froze (likely the fault of VirtualBox) so I wonder if it has anything to do with it.

UPDATE:

I just found out that it's functionality is actually swapped with that of Fn key (the special key that allow me, for example, to press it in combination with another to change screen brightness, speaker loudness, ...). How do I swap it back?

Note that before discovering that this was merely a key swap, I actually did a reinstall in desperation, and even poked around the (badly-designed) BIOS interface (this is a HP Probook 4350s) to see if I screwed up with anything.

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Are you on the host or guest? Is VirtualBox still involved here? If so what is your Host-Key? If it's the left control, it grabs that at a pretty low level, possibly before input gets sent on to X. –  Caleb Aug 23 '11 at 13:19
    
This happens even with VirtualBox uninstalled (which I did just to make sure it wasn't responsible), and my Host key is the Right Ctrl –  Tshepang Aug 23 '11 at 13:31
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If you log into an unconfigured account, does the key work? If you switch to a text console and run showkey and press that key, do you get any output? If you boot from a live CD, does the key work? –  Gilles Aug 23 '11 at 22:46
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The Fn key is usually handled by the BIOS, at a low level where the OS can't get at. Try unplugging the computer and pulling out the battery. If that fails, poke around the BIOS some more. –  Gilles Aug 24 '11 at 6:25

2 Answers 2

I was having the same issue and I resolved the issue following the steps mentioned below:

  1. Turned off the machine
  2. Removed both A/C power and Battery and waited for few seconds
  3. Attached battery, and turned on the machine..

This solved my problem. I didn't wait for more than few seconds before turning on machine again.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

My BIOS software/hardware must be flaky: my laptop was switched off for some hours, and the keys were swapped back on restart.

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