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I am running a GNOME 3 fallback desktop in Debian testing, and I removed some pulseaudio packages, for I don't need the advanced functionality. That resulted in my multimedia keys that control speaker volume to work no more. This forces me to use a mouse on the classic volume control applet to control the volume, which isn't always convenient.

Here's what I get:

$ acpi_listen
button/volumedown VOLDN 00000080 00000000 K
button/volumeup VOLUP 00000080 00000000 K

note: the other Fn keys (brightness, suspend, ...) work okay

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Are you using acpi? If, so run acpi_listen + keypress and edit /etc/acpi/handler.sh accordingly to run raise/lower scripts on these events (e.g. I'm using amixer set Master unmute 3%+ -q to raise volume). – user13742 Jan 13 '12 at 16:24
What should I put in that file? – Tshepang Jan 13 '12 at 17:25
This wiki site will give you all the information needed to setup. – user13742 Jan 13 '12 at 17:53
BTW, Debian doesn't have that specific script, so am not even sure it would work. Also the output from acpi_listen is different from the wiki. – Tshepang Jan 15 '12 at 10:26
Terminal command to set audio volume? from Ask Ubuntu might be helpful. – Cristian Ciupitu Jul 11 '14 at 2:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I was led to a page that provided explanations, and creating the following files worked for me:


#! /bin/sh
case $1 in
  -) amixer set Master $step-;;
  +) amixer set Master $step+;;


action=/etc/acpi/actions/volume -


action=/etc/acpi/actions/volume +
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If you have a personal/partial installed pulseaudio, probably you can use some program to remap the keyboard. It can be a good one keytouch from sourceforge and eventually keyTouch-editor. They were projected to provide a way to configure extra function keys, but can be used to remap all the keyboard.

You can try to follow what proposed by this blog page too:

  • Start keytouch, and go to the Keyboard screen.
  • If you can find your laptop model then it would be good idea to select that one, otherwise select some laptop model with Fn keys (or you can use one of the additional program the provide) So at the Keyboard screen hit the Change button.
  • Select one keyboard model and press ok.

It seems it enough to fix the problem. If not you can always try to fix the single couple of key (volume up and down) and to give them the command you want.

Command lines that can handle increasing and decreasing of volume, and that can be used as command for the remapped keys, e.g. can be:

  • amixer -D pulse sset Master 5%+ to increase of 5% or
    amixer -D pulse sset Master 5%+ to decrease of 5% (you can change to other than 5%) if you have amixer installed, for ALSA soundcard driver.
  • /usr/bin/pulseaudio-ctl up or /usr/bin/pulseaudio-ctl down once you will install pulseaudio-ctl scripts that need no extra/alsa-utils. Currently you can download those script from here.
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I could not figure how to use the GUI tool. I have however arrived at a solution. – Tshepang Jul 22 '14 at 18:48

You can go and manually set up the hotkeys in your machine. Go to the keyboard shortcuts which is located at, Systems/Preferences/Keyboard Shortcuts and make them what you want.

This normally works when ever i have a media keyboard that has a lot of different keys that don't work after messing with the OS. It makes it so I don't have to keep running a script that has the keys hard coded into it. Which can be a pain when testing new Linux distros.

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