I am trying to toggle num-lock on my Raspberry Pi 2 running Raspbian jessie, I need it to run during the initial CLI boot up (before <hostname> login: or startx), I have tried numlockx and setleds but none work until logged in. I already have a script that runs during boot and was hoping to incorporate it into the existing script.

In case you were wondering it is so I can have num-lock for my password.


5 Answers 5


Yup. There's a way.

  1. Open up /etc/kbd/config with your favorite editor.

  2. Search for a line that says LEDS=+num. It should be on line 67 if I'm not mistaken.

  3. Uncomment it. I assume you know how to uncomment since I think you know scripting.

  4. Profit.

  • thanks I will try it now and get back to you in a few minutes Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 12:09
  • 1
    It worked a charm! Now I just have to get used to not pressing numlock Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 12:13
  • 1
    I have my comfy chair but I need the pi because I'm live testing Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 14:49
  • 1
    imgur.com/W3kEJgr Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 14:50
  • 2
    I don't have any file at /etc/kbd/config. I tried sudo touch /etc/kbd/config, but it complained that there was "No such file or directory". Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 22:28

While this isn't directly answering the Raspbian Jessie question, for those other Googler's who run Raspbian Stretch, which doesn't have /etc/kbd/config, here's the solution:

  • Install numlockx: sudo apt-get install numlockx
  • Edit this file: sudo nano /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/01_debian.conf
  • At the end of that file, add this line: greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on
  • Save the file and reboot, and you NumLock key should still be on



which in turn cites:


  • Good to know there is a solution for X. But sadly that does not help in Raspbian Light. :(
    – kwasmich
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 9:03
  • 1
    Note also this will not work, as per the question, "before <hostname> login: or startx". It will also not work at all unless you are using lightdm (the GUI login).
    – goldilocks
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 12:25

/etc/kbd/config has been removed in Raspbian Stretch, but you can set the numlock state using /usr/bin/setleds instead.

For example, to enable numlock in all VTs:

# Turn Numlock on for the TTYs:
for tty in /dev/tty[1-6]; do
    /usr/bin/setleds -D +num < "$tty";

You put this script in /usr/local/bin/numlock, and invoke it at boot time, for example using a systemd service (/etc/systemd/system/numlock.service):




Enable the service with systemctl enable numlock.service.

Source: http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=134006#p650222

  • 1
    Note that this will only work for CLI. It does not work on Stretch on the UI boot.
    – aaronburro
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 16:25

On Raspbian 10 (Buster), there's a slightly easier way. In a terminal:

sudo apt install numlockx

In the default text editor, vim.tiny, or nano save the following text into the file ~/.config/autostart/NumLock.desktop:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Numlock on
Comment=Set numlock to on at logon
Exec=numlockx on

That's it. This is based on how the system already configures keyboard and mouse settings.


Command line:

sed -i 's/#LEDS=+num/LEDS=+num/' '/etc/kbd/config'
  • How exactly does this work? How would the OP get this to run before setting the hostname and before startx? Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 22:28
  • You just run it once, it modifies the file forever. It is the programmatic equivalent to the manual steps up there. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 13:53
  • Most sysadmins like to know how the programs/scripts in their systems work. Serious ones audit everything that needs to run in a mission-critical environment. People also like to make sure that random scripts/commands they get online are not malicious. This is why we want to know what this does, not for us, but for the laypeople.
    – Aloha
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 11:59

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