Razer BlackWidow, Other Products On Linux?
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 3 January 2012 at 11:59 PM EST. 16 Comments
The Razer BlackWidow is an incredibly well constructed mechanical keyboard, but how well does it work under Linux? Has the Razer product support at Linux improved at all recently?

A few weeks ago I picked up the Razer BlackWidow keyboard for my main machine in the office. I didn't pick-up this keyboard for any gaming, but rather having been a big fan of their mice, keyboards, and other peripherals over the years. Razer is obviously a gaming-focused company, but their many products I've either bought or received as samples have been wonderful. The build quality is great along with an impressive feature-set and being very reliable.

The Razer BlackWidow is a fully mechanical keyboard for "superior tactility and faster response", on-the-fly macro recording and profiles, multi-media keys, and more. Like the other Razer products, the BlackWidow has been great and is paired with a Razer Lachesis mouse.

In terms of the Linux compatibility for the Razer BlackWidow, like their other products, they don't have any official Linux / open-source support. However, with it being a standard USB keyboard, all of the core keyboard functionality works without fault.

What's missing right now from the Linux support with this mechanical gaming keyboard is support for the programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording, 10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching, and five extra macro keys. So some keys are useless (at least for now until there is any form of official or third-party Linux support), but all of the standard 100+ keys work fine and the keyboard besides these gaming-focused extras works wonderfully.

In terms of unofficial Razer Linux support happening for the other gaming products, for mouse configuration there is the Razer device configuration tool. This open-source tool is still actively developed with the last commits coming from near the end of 2011. This tool allows configuring Razer LEDs and other features under Linux.

In the past there's also been RazerTool and other now defunct programs for supporting limited functionality of some Razer products.

This situation isn't quite as nice though as the Roccat product support under Linux that's still actively being done with vendor support.

Razer has previously talked about official Linux support a few times, but so far nothing has materialized. I'm hearing this again now that the company is focusing upon a big gaming push into China and they went through a $50M (USD) round of financing last month, but I guess we'll see in the coming months if they bring anything new to Linux gamers.

Getting back to the BlackWidow mechanical keyboard, while the extra gaming functionality isn't supported, the keyboard works quite fine besides that. With not even purchasing this keyboard for gaming but rather just to serve as a very reliable and sturdy keyboard, I'm quite happy with the purchase while it's connected to an Ubuntu Linux machine.
About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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