I have been asked to help with an Acer laptop. It has worked fine with a dual-boot configuration (Arch Linux/Windows XP) for some time. Then the user decided to replace XP with Windows 7, which still worked fine. Weeks later when booting up windows 7 the laptop's PS/2 mouse and keyboard did not respond.

A solution seemed to be to format the Windows partition again and reinstall XP, but the mouse and keyboard didn't respond in XP either. We tried Windows 2000, but without any success.

The only way to get input to work in Windows was to launch it in safe mode or with external keyboard and mouse plugged in before booting (Windows wouldn't recognise them at runtime and the mentioned workarounds worked 1 out of 3 times at best).

In safe mode, Windows did not provide any debug information or error messages related to the problem. I have to mention that the keyboard works fine in the BIOS and both keyboard and mouse (built-in and external) worked fine the whole time from the Arch Linux OS. Any advice would be appreciated.

Edit 1

  1. The BIOS configuration in this laptop is very limited, I doubt that it's causing the problem.

  2. Why would stock Windows XP (the same version that worked before) install different drivers for exactly the same hardware? (yes, there where no hardware changes at all)

  3. I got the install done by connecting external mouse and keyboard (USB) before booting the system: it was the only way to do it.

    I'm beginning to think that Windows somehow preserves some configuration from previous installs on another NTFS partition I didn't install it to. This would explain why Windows 7 could mess up my clean XP and 2000 installations: unfortunately formatting those partitions is not an option at this point.

Edit 2

As I mentioned in the original post:

"The only way to get input to work in Windows was to launch it in safe mode..."

This means it works fine in safe mode! And it works in Linux and the BIOS too... So please quit posting "it's obviously a hardware failure" type of answers.

7 Answers 7


Had the same issue with my Acer Aspire notebook, of all things it turned out the battery was shot, once i removed it from the laptop the internal mouse and keyboard again worked normally.

  • Thx man, finally!
    – user12932
    Nov 27, 2010 at 21:38

I have personally not heard of this.

If you are sure that it is working in the Linux installation it means that there are no faulty connections and it is a software based issue.

The best I can think of is that rather than the usual PS/2, the keyboard/mouse is being recognised as a USB based device and some how the USB drivers / root hub has become corrupt or an incorrect version installed.

If the external keyboard is USB, I am a bit further confused, but if it is PS/2, this may work to my theory.

The best I can think of is to use system restore or try to manually uninstall updates one by one.

Lastly, if all else fails, reinstall Windows and apply updates one by one until you reach the failure and you should identify where the problem lies.

I would personally start by going to device manager and uninstalling / removing (or rolling back) the driver for all USB root hubs and connectors then doinga plug and play scan which should reset/reinstall them. This may not solve the issue but should be a good start.


If it's failing in all versions of Windows but not in Arch Linux ... that's impossible, I would have said.

Except ... it clearly works in the Windows INSTALLER or you couldn't have finished the install, right? Windows has to be installing the wrong driver for the keyboard and mouse. You could try using an external keyboard to install a different driver from the Control Panel.

  • 1
    After reading your edited question: if the Windows Installer can't detect the built-in keyboard and mouse, there's a hardware fault, period. For some reason Arch can still use them--maybe a better driver? Nonetheless, your laptop requires hardware repair.
    – CarlF
    Oct 19, 2009 at 14:56
  • I don't follow your reasoning: please elaborate.
    – user12932
    Oct 20, 2009 at 0:33
  • If no version of Windows can detect it EVEN BOOTED OFF A CD/DVD, then the problem simply can't be software. If the software didn't change, then it must be hardware. There's one compromise: firmware--that is, the BIOS. Try fiddling with BIOS settings.
    – CarlF
    Oct 21, 2009 at 4:42

Sounds like possibly a driver issue? Check device manager for any unknown/problem devices, and make sure you've run Windows Update of course, as it can sometimes solve these problems for you.

After that, check the Acer site for any Mouse/Keyboard related support issues or downloads.

This doesn't explain why it would first work, then arbitrarily stop working after a week. Did you install or uninstall anything at that time?


If you’re having issues when trying to install an o/s, I would go for hardware issue as well.

First thing I would do is set Bios to default and swap out CMOS battery for new one if laptop few years old. (This will clear the Bios)

Then make sure that both the ribbon cable for mouse and keyboard are firmly attached to their respective connectors on the motherboard.

If it starts working ok I would also be tempted to download the latest Bios patch as many Acers I have come across have had Bios Issues.


Rather than guess what Windows does or doesn't see, can you tell us what it says it has in the device manager, ie whether does Windows not see the devices at all, or sees them with some sort of problem.

The solution to the problem is probably different depending on whether or not Windows can see the actual devices. You may have to change the BIOS or tell Windows to use the correct driver but that's a bit of a guess.


My best guess is: Drivers: I think maybe trying older drivers for usb/keyboard/mouse might help.

I've had a problem with my graphics card that a certain version of drivers didn't crash my windows. Sometimes Windows updates the drivers or updates some part that uses the drivers that can cause failure.

Maybe try some analyser like SIW. Maybe it can dig up some useful information.

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