AllowEmptyInput and HAL

Phil Endecott spam_from_xorg at
Tue Apr 28 14:01:25 PDT 2009

Hello again,

My efforts to recover from a dead computer continue.  I have 
resurrected the old disk in a new box, but the new box has a different 
graphics chip and installing the (Debian packaged) driver for that has 
brought in new bits of everything, and it has all gone bad.

Specifically, when X started I had no keyboard or mouse.   After 
power-cycling [no other way to escape!] I found a message in the log 
saying that "AllowEmptyInput" was enabled and that my keyboard and 
mouse configuration was being ignored.  Having looked this up in man 
xorg.conf I see that this mode is the default.  I'll try to be polite: 
This does not seem like the most useful behaviour.

Having set AutoAddDevices to false in order to disable the unhelpful 
AllowEmptyInput, I now have a functioning mouse.  But I have a keyboard 
where every alternate keystroke produces the right letter and the 
others produce garbage (maybe top-bit-set characters?).

I also noticed some messages in the log where "config/hal" complained 
that "NewInputDeviceRequest failed".  Presumably this is because of my 
AutoAddDevices.  I had noticed that Debian installed "hal"; I had not 
previously heard of it.  It looks like something that sits on top of udev.

So I've now spent most of three days on this.  I just want a computer 
that works, preferably as well as the old one did, and while I don't 
have one I can't do much work [I'm self-employed].  So could someone 
please suggest what I should do:

- Is there some simple set of xorg.conf settings that will make it just 
work like it did before, without any AllowEmptyInput and HAL stuff and 
with a functional keyboard?

- Or would I be better off trying to learn how this HAL thing works?

X is something that I only have to understand once every few years when 
I have some new hardware.  By the next time I need to understand it, 
either I have forgotten something vital or it has all changed....

Cheers,  Phil.

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