USB keyboards


Now that I have the trifecta of popular Operating Systems here at home, I've noticed some surprising differences and failings among them. The most notable of these failings is quite unusual and very unexpected.

as I now have a Mac Mini, I got a USB keyboard. It's a very nice Apple Keyboard and it works flawlessly with both Linux and Windows under most circumstances. I thought, when I got it, that I might have had some problems with Linux. I thought that I might have some problems with my (older) motherboard (ECS D6VAA) on the Linux box and this new-fangled USB stuff; but it works just fine. I can change things in the BIOS on those rare occasions when I reboot the machine, and it's not even a slight issue that there isn't a keyboard plugged into the PS/2 port.

The problem is with the Dell Precision 220, the Windows box. Lord knows, it hasn't seen much use since I had both the Linux box and the Mac working. There's almost nothing I need a Windows box for now, apart from those very few websites which refuse to work on anything else, and the odd game. So far, this has only been Standard Chartered's online banking (which should actually work on the Mac as it has IE) and, which is very obnoxious about only working on IE for Windows.

(It always amazes me that web-designers would go out of their way to make something which only works on a very specific platform. It's not difficult to make things work for almost every combination of OS and browser, as long as you adhere to the standards. I think that there's a bunch of 'web-designers' out there who've only learned a very limited set of skills on a very limited platform and insist on forcing that everywhere.)

Anyway, back to Windows: This Dell box refuses to acknowledge a USB keyboard until Windows is running. (And even then, it takes a good six seconds, as opposed to the Mac's two seconds, and the Linux box's three seconds.) This means that accessing the BIOS or 'Safe Mode' is impossible on the Windows box. (And it means that the Windows box feels like the least responsive machine when you're switching between the three.)

(And when you are switching between the three, the Windows box really starts to look like crap. The Mac has a great UI which lacks some ultimate configurability, which the Linux box has the configurability and the great response from the command line but the UI is a bit mediocre. The Windows box firmly falls between two stools by having a mediocre UI and a poor level of configurability or command line.)

Now, this may be the BIOS. After all, the Linux box is also an x86 box and I can use a USB keyboard to access the BIOS on that. The Windows box has a custom Dell BIOS with almost no options available for changing. Maybe it's just Dell that sucks beyond belief. My Asus P2-B motherboard I bought in 1998 can use a USB keyboard to access the BIOS. Is it too much to ask for a professional Dell workstation to not do the same thing?

UPDATE: - Having got a PS/2 Keyboard and booting up the machine again, It maintains that a USB Keyboard can be used to boot. This is just not true.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on June 20, 2005 11:20 PM.

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