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[Last update: October 13rd, 1997]
FreeKEYB (K3PLUS) - The ultimative keyboard driver for DOS
Copyright © 1991-1997 by Axel C. Frinke & Matthias Paul
[Comparision with K3PLUS]
Welcome to the FreeKEYB pages!
Mainly with the exception of some English speaking countries, in general
each time an IBM-compatible computer is booted up, a special keyboard driver
will be loaded to map the key cap assignments to the local requirements
(that is, using a national keyboard the same keys will appear on the screen
as been typed in).
Our new international and multi-lingual keyboard
driver FreeKEYB is
a major revamping of K3PLUS, which has been our very
successful keyboard driver project back in 1991-1995. Though K3PLUS
itself has been written from scratch by us, among alot of other sources,
the driver was originally influenced by an even older driver
named K3 (written
by Martin Gerdes), published in the German computer
magazine c't in 1988.
Before distributing the final release, we plan to publish an
open FreeKEYB beta. However, even now stable alpha
versions are available on email request (see below). As K3PLUS has
been FreeKEYB will also be Freeware. There
will be no charges for non-commercial usage. Though we have not
yet come to a decision, we are also thinking about donating the driver to
the FreeDOS project
and publishing the source code. The old K3PLUS driver will remain
available on many FTP servers.
Even without an extra note, the following text is meant for
both, FreeKEYB and K3PLUS; at the end of this text we
will describe the FreeKEYB enhancements compared to
FreeKEYB is a complete replacement of the keyboard driver
KEYB as being shipped with DOS, but provides alot of additional features
and handy enhancements, while still comsuming only minimal memory resources
compared to the features offered. It will greatly extend the input
interface of almost every application running under DOS, and will make
typing at the prompt much more fun. By the feedback from our users,
we can be sure, that after becoming familiar with FreeKEYB's enhanced
features, also you will wonder, how you ever could held on with the
FreeKEYB is interestingly for everybody working under DOS
or in the DOS boxes of graphically shells such as MS Windows. For
every group of users, e.g. professionals, programming freaks, for people with
foreign correspondence, for networkers, etc. FreeKEYB offers
some special features.
The installation of FreeKEYB is very easy. In most
cases, all you have to do is replacing your old keyboard driver (e.g. KEYB)
by FreeKEYB in CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT. During
the evaluation period, you also can load FreeKEYB over
your older driver, and switching between them by
a FreeKEYB hotkey.
By sure, you now want to know about the
advanced FreeKEYB features
in details. Some of the features are rather invisible to a user and
only affect the system, giving it enhanced functionality (especially on
older machines); but many enhancements directly affect typing.
For reasons of size we can only give a much shortened overview on the
features of the driver (as of the German version of K3PLUS V6.21P6
here). However, you can read all the details in the comprehensive
(mainly German) documentation that ships with the driver.
In such a short overview it is almost impossible to describe all the
features FreeKEYB gives you. Of course, for
maximum use of the driver you will need to read the comprehensive
manual (unfortunately, at present the main reference manual is available
in German language, only). However, you won't have problems to
install the driver, since all the basic KEYB functions are present
in FreeKEYB, too, and for a start you can almost
use FreeKEYB as if it was KEYB.
- Fully compatible with the usual DOS keyboard drivers (except codepage
switching at runtime). Runs with any DOS 2.0+ (including single
user DR DOS, Novell DOS,
and Caldera OpenDOS,
and under FreeDOS)
on (almost) every IBM-compatible machine from oldest PCs up to brand
new Pentium systems, out of DOS boxes of IBM OS/2,
MS Windows 3.xx, MS Windows95, and
MS Windows/NT. It should also run with all the non-Intel CPUs
out there, though we unfortunately have been reported problems with
early steppings (before B9731) of AMD's otherwise excellent K6 processor,
which contained some
bugs. In this case,
maybe you are lucky enough to return your CPU in exchange of a
current stepping (e.g. stepping 2 as of 10/1997).
- Compared to the features offered, FreeKEYB is very
small and fast (100% extremely optimized assembler code, which is highly
selfmodifying). We seriously tried to twickle with every bit and
clock cycle, as long as compatibility did not suffer. When
comparing FreeKEYB with other keyboard drivers you
should also keep in mind, that FreeKEYB makes some
other memory consuming system enhancements pretty much obsolete
- Automatic configuration depending on detected hard- and software
(especially the system and the keyboard)
- Adjustability of the keyboard typematic rate
- Insert, Numlock, CAPSLock and Scroll-Lock are configurable
- Several additional shift modifier layers on the keyboard
- Easy and intuitive input of special chars (greek, mathematically,
scientific and graphically chars)
- Input via <Alt>-NumPad in decimal, hex, octal, or binary notation
and output as char (including repeat functionality), or in decimal,
hex, octal, or binary systems, including calculator and constant
- Enhanced support for accented chars can be enabled/disabled
- (German) umlaut translation (4 modes) to be used for example in
networking mails, terminal sessions, TeX writings, or MS Windows'
- CopyCursor (a second cursor to copy screen contents into the keyboard
- Several macro functions for general purposes (e.g. date and time),
for the DOS command line, PASCAL-, C-, and ASM programmers
- Codepage switching support for 437 (optional 850)
- Video text page switching
- Universal periodic screen blanker for all video adapters, including
multi monitor systems, with acustic remainder and mouse support.
Also supports power saving capabilities of newer monitors; older
monitors can be updated using an optional monitor switchbox
as described in the German computer magazine c't 04/1995.
(Makes an external screen saver obsolete.)
- Extended keyboard buffer with more than 15 chars, inclusive
emulation of 4DOS/NDOS KSTACK for easy key stacking...
(Makes external KSTACK drivers obsolete.)
- Enhanced break and boot capabilities
- CAPSLock/ShiftLock and NumPad-decimal point/comma switchable
- A special overwrite line mode can be activated
- Full support of INT16h inclusive an own API
- E0-translation can be activated
- Transparent mode allows access to BIOS hotkeys and other drivers
- Additional US-English keyboard layout on a key press
- Security and integrity checks to avoid virus contamination etc.
- Online configurable
- Compared to the TSR version of FreeKEYB the device
driver contains several enhancements in conjunction with key stacking,
and umlaut/accent support.
- Several specialized versions for other European keyboard layouts
Compared to K3PLUS V6.21P6 our new FreeKEYB has been
especially extended in the following areas:
Unfortunately we can't spend as much time in this huge project as we did in
former times. Hence, to still continue
the FreeKEYB development
and further extend the driver we really need support and fund by
our users! We especially need more beta testers, but
also people, willing to translate the comprehensive German manuals
into English and proof-reading them, and to test the foreign language
keyboard layouts. We are also searching for translators and
maintainers for other countries (e.g. Italian, Polish, Czech, Russian,
Japanese, etc.). We tend to include all the remaining keyboard
layouts world-wide, but therefore, we really would need supporters in
those countries. If you're willing to help in some way, we would
actually like to hear from you.
- More user flexibility, that is many new options allow you to better
configure the driver to personal requirements. We have tried to
satisfy many of the ideas brought to us from our users (though there's
still more to do, sorry...).
- Better embedding the driver into the system: The hardware
dependent layers of the driver have been revised to solve some
incompatibilities with non-standard hardware, and become up to
date in the areas of newly introduced keyboards (such as
Win95-keyboards). The TSR and device driver versions of the
driver have now been combined into a single executable, and several
advanced load-high features (even for XTs!) have been added.
- Internationalization: FreeKEYB now supports all
American and European keyboard layouts which are supported by KEYB
in a single driver. This also caused us to implement support
of different codepages (437, 8xx, ISO 8859-x, 12xx, KOI8-R).
Messages will be shown multi-lingual depending on your systems
configuration, whereby the currently supported languages are
English, German, Dutch, French, and Spanish. The Dutch and
French messages have been translated by
Stein Somers and
Wim Osterholt, the
Spanish messages by
Ciriaco García de Celis. All
three translators have also provided other useful hints on
the FreeKEYB development. Thanks!
For quite some time now, there exists a mailing list
about FreeKEYB/K3PLUS, being maintained
by Andreas Schamanek.
With the formular below, one can subscribe to the list:
Further information of how to modify the account data (with a web
browser) and the original version of this formular as well can be
found at the
home page of this Mailing list.
Alternatively, one can subscribe to the list by sending an email with
any subject and a line
"subscribe <password> [digest-option] address=<address>" in
the body to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
If you want to, sending a mail with a body of
"unsubscribe <password> <address>"
will get you out of the list again.
General information according keyboards can be found
here (in German). We have bundled this and
other updated FreeKEYB/K3PLUS text documents (German) to
an archive named FRKBNEWS [30 KB] which
is available here.
In the last weeks we received several requests for DVORAK layouts, but
currently are not able to implement it into FreeKEYB. So we have
written a small Addon-TSR
DVORAK [5 KB],
which changes the US layout to the DVORAK layouts. It can be used without
FreeKEYB as well.
K3PLUS V6.21P6 [288 KB] can
be downloaded here. Feel free to contact us to receive the current
FreeKEYB alpha version.
Depending on the HTML-browser you use, this form could be
misshaped. If this is the case, the browser most probably
is not able to create a valid mail out of this form and you
better should write a manual eMail
<Matthias.Paul@post.rwth-aachen.de>) instead. (Please
refer to the software packages offered here for our mail addresses.)
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