Keyboard randomly stops working - Not OS, but not hardware either?

I have two Framework laptops, one was a DIY one was a prebuilt, one is running Linux the other Windows 11. With both laptops I have an intermittent issue where they keyboard will just stop working. Usually this happens upon powering up or upon waking up from sleep but on at least one occasion the keyboard went unresponsive after plugging in a USB thumb drive. The issue is not software - it happens regardless of Linux or Windows OS and when it’s acting up the keyboard doesn’t work at the BIOS startup screen either (I have quiet boot and quick boot turned off in BIOS so there’s time to test the keyboard before getting into the OS). However the issue does not appear to be physical hardware either; the ribbon cable is fine because all the other top panel hardware works fine (touchpad, fingerprint reader, power button) and - here is the really baffling bit - I can usually fix the problem by plugging in an external USB keyboard. Not USING it, just PLUGGING IT IN, plugging in an EXTERNAL USB keyboard causes the INTERNAL keyboard to suddenly spring to life. But the other solution is to just turn it off and leave it off for a few hours, often the keyboard will come back to life on its own. It can’t be heat-related either because the problem usually exhibits waking from sleep or powering up so the machine is cold. So if it’s not software, and it’s not hardware either, then it must be firmware right? Except I can’t find a pattern there either. The one Framework (the non-DIY Windows 11 one) worked perfectly fine for months until I installed BIOS 3.10 update, shortly after that I started having keyboard problems. But the other Framework (the DIY Linux one) started having keyboard problems almost right off the bat, while it was still on BIOS 3.06 (updating to BIOS 3.10 didn’t change anything). I’m at the end of my rope here troubleshooting this, thought I’d reach out to the community before opening a support ticket. I love what Framework is doing but I have TWO Framework laptops that are too unreliable to be usable.

Thats weird.

You could try these solutions:

Ubuntu 17.04 keyboard not responding after suspend - Ask Ubuntu.

I might recommend, as a first step in troubleshooting, restarting the embedded controller (which implements the keyboard matrix scanning and translation to PS/2). Hold down the power button for ~30 seconds, even after the power otherwise goes off. The charging LED should blink.

FWIW, this has the same effect as leaving the laptop unplugged and powered off for 30 seconds. The EC reboots. If the issue comes back repeatedly, it might be worth looking into the EC console log to see what it thinks is happening. That’s at /sys/kernel/debug/cros_ec/console_log (or similar). Capture a copy of it when the keyboard isn’t working! :smile:

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Not a bad idea @DHowett but I don’t have a cros_ec in my /sys/kernel/debug or anything similar to it. That might not be the issue because it takes a lot longer than 30 seconds of sitting off for my keyboards to start working again. More like 30 minutes. Also, holding down the power button until the charging LED blinks (takes about 10-15 seconds for me) also does not fix the issue.

My only thoughts are to check the ribbon cable for the keyboard, as opposed to the one for the whole top cover, to see if those might be a little loose. You could also try swapping the keyboards between the two laptops to see if that changes anything (less of a solution, and more of a test to see if the issue lies within the keyboards, or possibly the mainboards).

Either way, I would recommend sending in a support ticket, seeing as it is happening on two different laptops running two different OS’s I’m sure Framework would like to know about it so they can investigate the root cause.

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This is the recommended course of action. Please contact support.

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Thank you, Matt, I have created a support ticket, they have asked me to provide a video so I’m just waiting for the next time it happens to capture it on video.

After some further troubleshooting I’ve determined I actually have two different issues; on some occasions when the keyboard stopped working I was also experiencing the screen going blank, and on those occasions the “plug in external keyboard” fix did not work. I have determined that when this happens the problem isn’t the keyboard at all; the problem is the lid-closed sensor is falsely going off, and the laptop is disabling the keyboard, screen, keyboard backlight, and power light (but seemingly not the touchpad, curiously) because it thinks the lid is closed. I haven’t figured out exactly why this keeps happening to both my Framework laptops, it’s happening disruptively frequently, but for sure I’ve figured out that you cannot place a Framework laptop on top of another one; apparently the sensor is magnetic (?) and the lid of the bottom one will set off the sensor of the one above it. But I’ve also had this issue happen when the two Framework laptops were nowhere near each other and I haven’t figured out what is setting it off in those cases. This also does not explain the issue I have when the keyboard and only the keyboard doesn’t work; on these occasions the screen is still lit up and the power light is still lit up, and on those occasions are when plugging in an external keyboard causes the internal one to spring to life.

I have determined that when this happens the problem isn’t the keyboard at all; the problem is the lid-closed sensor is falsely going off, and the laptop is disabling the keyboard, screen, keyboard backlight, and power light (but seemingly not the touchpad, curiously) because it thinks the lid is closed.

I’ve seen a variation of this. I place one Framework laptop on top of another, one off, the top one on. They sit on top of a metal table. Fine, then I move the top one - it goes into a state with no display, flashing power light like it’s suspended. Remove and press power, comes back to life.

I suspect this is definitely something support can help with. But make sure to note any and all environmental variables so they can get a complete picture.