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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

 [History]  [Purpose]  [Features]  [Comparision with K3PLUS]  [Support]  [AddOns]  [Download]  [Contacting us]

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 K3PLUS.

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 former restrictions.

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.

Compared to K3PLUS V6.21P6 our new FreeKEYB has been especially extended in the following areas:
  1. 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...).
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
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.

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:

Your email address:  
Pick a password:
Reenter password to confirm:
Receive list mail batched in a daily digest
You must enter a privacy password. This provides only mild security, but should prevent others from messing with your subscription. Do not use valuable passwords!

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 <freekeyb-l-request@ito.bwl.univie.ac.at>. 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.

eMail form for contacting us...

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 (<frinke@cs.bonn.edu> or <Matthias.Paul@post.rwth-aachen.de>) instead.  (Please refer to the software packages offered here for our mail addresses.)




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