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Getting volume buttons to work on thinkpad t61

I just installed debian stable onto a Thinkpad T61 and then upgraded to testing. I am not using the desktop environment for two reasons: (1) I am doing most of my gui tasks on my Mac or Windows machines; and (2) when I ran the installer with the graphical desktop checked in tasksel, my braille display (I am blind) froze at "starting gdm" rather than just saying "screen is not in text mode" as it would ordinarily do if orca is not configured and so I wasn't able to diagnose my X problem; I just reinstalled and left that out and will solve that problem later if I want to run gnome.

my problem, after installing alsa and getting sound working, is that the volume buttons do not work. They may produce beeps and a ~ on the screen but they do not perform the functions for which they were designed; neither does the mute button. All I could find on this subject dealt with using xmodmap but since I'm not running X and just want to buttons to work when running in the text console, I didn't think this would help me. Is there a way for me to get these buttons to work? Otherwise, I suppose I'll have to reconfigure and figure out where my problem with starting X and gnome was when I tried it before.

Thanks for any help you can give.


May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to You, Lord,
my rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14 HCSB)

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