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The problem is that the left alt key sends Alt_L to the X server while the right one sends Meta_R.
You should be able to solve the problem with
xmodmap -e "keysym Alt_L = Meta_L"
you can also add
keysym Alt_L = Meta_L
to ~/.xmodmap to make it persistent.
I may be completely backwards, I cannot check it at the moment. It may need to be
xmodmap -e "keysym Alt_L = Alt_L"
Ok, got a little confused. First I thought the problem was in X, then the console, now X again. I am back on track, so disregard my previous post. What terminal emulator are you using? Do you have the same problem in others? xterm, Eterm, aterm, konsole, gnome-terminal?
That may be dumb but why isn't it :
xmodmap -e "keysym Alt_L = Alt_R" ?
I think it's because X's rule is: "make whatever keycode that would usually result in a lhs_sym to instead generate a rhs_sym". So, dracae wanted me to tell X: "make whatever keycode that would usually generate an Alt_L instead generate a Meta_L" -- which would seem to make sense, since GNU nano is supposed to want a Meta when I hit my Alt key.