Bluetooth Keyboard Pairing on Kano OS

Our Logitech K380 keyboard wouldn’t pair to our Raspberry Pi 3 running Kano OS today (I know, very specific). I couldn’t quickly find an answer to this on the greater web, in part because I figured that the Kano folks would have had a helpful guide somewhere―but that turned out to be a faulty assumption. The following will, I hope, assist others querying the great search gods.

So, I recently had an issue with our Raspberry Pi 3 running Kano OS. The issue was that our Logitech K380 bluetooth keyboard was failing to connect. This keyboard has the unique ability to switch between being paired (differently) with up to three different devices. These are paired (and selected) by using the F1, F2, and F3 keys respectively. Hold down to enter pairing mode and―once paired―briefly depress to select that particular pair to interact with the specified device. Very cool!

I’m not certain if holding down the dual pairing/F[1|2|3] key resets whatever pair there was on that key, but that’s what appeared to have happened. Kids press things, it happens, and now they couldn’t type because the pair was broken. Not cool! But it gets even worse.

After trying to re-pair the device to the computer it became clear to me that Kano OS was preserving the device itself (I believe by MAC address) as an already-paired device. So it smartly was not allowing that same device to pair with a new key because, well, it already had agreed upon a key to pair with this specific device and that sounds like a potentially troubling security issue.

The Kano OS GUI interface offered no way to delete the device. Luckily this is Linux, so I knew there was certainly a way once I understood the problem well enough to seek a particular solution. The sad reality was that I needed to borrow a usb keyboard from another machine to type the commands (if anyone can walk me through text-input on a Raspberry Pi 3, Kano OS, with a mouse via command live I’m interested), but a post on “Ask Ubuntu” gave me the commands I was looking for:

Open terminal and type:

bluetoothctl

then you will see the list of devices you have paired with and their corresponding MAC address. To un-pair a device type:

remove aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff

replace aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff with the MAC address of the device to un-pair.

So after entering that command―which removed the device and previous key pair form the machine―I was able to go back through the GUI of Kano OS and “find” and then pair the keyboard anew with the OS. This was a successful experiment with wonderful results: kids using their computer once more.

Related note: If you have been considering a computer for your kids and have some peripherals and a monitor around, it would be hard to beat a $35 Raspberry Pi3 (and a ~$10 plug and ~$10 case). It’s truly a beautiful learning OS. You’ll need to help them out of course, but there’s a lot there for them to explore on their own. Easily the best purchase of any type I’ve made in years.

The GNU/Linux Lagniappes

I’ve been enamored with free software since Windows Vista decided to disappear what I called my “trial run” Wubi install of Ubuntu. By the end of this “trial” I preferred GNU/Linux so strongly that I had forgotten there was another operating system (OS) installed on the computer.

But then there was a problem. I couldn’t boot into GNU/Linux anymore. Vista was working fine but my preferred OS was missing. I would later discover that my first real issue with GNU/Linux was created by Windows. While this situation did not give me joy at the time, it was extremely fortuitous.

The problem of a “missing” OS prompted my first visit to a support forum. I solved my own issue with helpful guidance from others. A total stranger thanked me or my efforts because they were experiencing the same issue and benefited from the solution I had discovered and shared.

I switched firmly to GNU/Linux that day.

Computing is now an activity I truly enjoy, benefit from greatly, and intend to utilize for the greater good. GNU/Linux is like a rabbit hole of lagniappes; the fringe benefits keep coming. This chain of positives is in addition to the software itself. I now know and care more intensely about computers, technology, sharing, IP law, programming, ethics, teaching, and more.

GNU/Linux changed me. It changed me for the better. There is just one problem: I don’t feel like I’ve changed GNU/Linux. I don’t feel like I’ve given back enough.1

I’ve been working to figure out what I can do to help GNU/Linux. Here are some things I’ve done for a while now:

  1. Introduce people to GNU/Linux
  2. Teach people about the value of the four essential freedoms
  3. Help people become users of GNU/Linux
  4. Donate to projects (e.g. Gimp)

In a post about UX redesign, Máirín Duffy created a graphic depicting the chasm between use and contribution. What a striking image.

CC-BY-SA 2014 Máirín Duffy.

I was left with one burning question: how do I make the jump?

While I continue actively contributing in the ways listed above, I recently came across a very different opportunity to make the leap:

It is time to open the submission phase for Fedora 21 Supplemental Wallpapers… The deadline until you can submit your artwork is the August 16 2014 at 23:59 UTC.

minor commitment: Create and submit a supplemental wallpaper for Fedora 21.

In some ways I believe that this image-based contribution will be significantly less valuable than the educational, philosophical, and monetary contributions I am currently making. It’s not that I don’t think art is important2, it is more that I don’t believe I will clearly see the impact of the contribution so as to correctly assess its value.

When I talk about the necessity of the four freedoms, specific people go away thinking differently. When I help people install GNU/Linux, I am able to see them begin to redefine their relationship with computing. When I donate to projects, I do so with the knowledge that my financial contribution is supporting those who support users. When I submit a wallpaper, I… just don’t know. I can’t imagine what the impact may be and I may never know.

That’s why I’m making the jump. That uncertainty is, for me, a leap of faith. Let’s see if I end up on the other side.


  1. In truth, I don’t know that any individual could give back enough. 
  2. I know art is vital.