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I'm using Awesome GNOME.

When I log into the GNOME Shell, my up and down volume keys work. When I login to Awesome GNOME, they don't. However, when I go into gnome-control-center to set them, the Keyboard section recognizes them just fine when I go to bind the keys to the volume actions. Basically I think what's happening is that GNOME understands the keys but doesn't have anything running to act upon them.

How can I make Awesome GNOME work with the media keys?

Note that I'm on Arch Linux, so I'm using GNOME 3.8 and Awesome 3.5.1 Ruby Tuesday. I'm using the awesome-gnome package from Arch's AUR. Also, the play/pause key doesn't work, but I didn't test this in the GNOME Shell.

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create a keybinding for your keys in your awesome config and lunch the appropriate programs. –  Ulrich Dangel Jul 13 '13 at 9:28
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