Ubuntu 12.04 - Super key not working in shortcuts

If you are running the latest Ubuntu this Summer and are trying to configure your keyboard shortcuts to use the Super key, you may be out of luck.

Up until recently, I was quite happy with my Super+E key launching nautilus in my home directory. I went to Keyboard Shortcuts and played around with the configuration and then restored my original values. To my surprise, I could no longer open nautilus with the key combination Super+E. It took me all evening to find a solution and as it turns out, there are several issues at play:

So, at the end, it turns out it’s gnome-settings-daemon being faulty. To get the updated version, which should fix the issue on Ubuntu 12.04, you need to accept packages from the proposed archive.

Start by making sure you have your system up-to-date:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
# Accept upgrades, if any.

To enable the proposed archive for Ubuntu 12.04 go to Applications→Ubuntu Software Center→Edit→Software Sources→Updates and ensure that precise-proposed is ticked.

You should also make sure to suppress updates you are not interested in as you may unnecessarily install an unstable package. To opt-out of automatic updates from the proposed archive, create a new file under /etc/apt/preferences.d/precise-proposed and put the following inside it:

Package: *
Pin: release a=precise-security
Pin-Priority: 990

Package: *
Pin: release a=precise-updates
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: release a=precise-proposed
Pin-Priority: 400

What the above file does is to ensure the proposed packages are lower in priority than their stable versions from precise-updates. Before you continue, make sure you don’t have any package updates. If you do, it means something was picked up from the proposed archive and this should not have happened:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
# Confirm you have 0 upgrades.

Finally, install gnome-settings-daemon from precise-proposed:

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-settings-daemon/precise-proposed

Unfortunately you would likely need to restart the system for changes to take effect. In my case I killed the daemon, but in the process it didn’t reload with the correct settings and I experienced a nasty crash.

I hope changes would be pushed to stable channels soon which would make this post obsolete, but in the interim, enjoy your Super key combos working again.