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I run Gentoo with KDE and I have a german keyboard (Cherry RS 6000 M). However only the "basic" keys work, i.e. no "@", no "|", no umlauts like "ü", no backslash. And the KDE Keyboard Tool (the little flag in the panel that indicates which keyboard layout you are using) shows "ERR: Error changing keyboard layout to 'de(nodeadkeys)'" (or "... to 'en(basic)'"). In the KDE Control Center I set
Keyboard model: Generic 104-key PC (tried several other)
Active layouts: "us basic" and "de nodeadkeys" (tried also "de basic")
thx for your post. I changed Option "XkbModel" "pc104" to Option "XkbModel" "pc105" in the xorg.conf and set the keyboard model to "Generic 105-key (Intl) PC" in the KDE Control Center. Didn't work though.
One possible reason I see is that you have more than one xorg.conf (or any of its other possible names) and that, when X is started from the initscripts, it uses another conf file or another combination of conf files than the one used by a manual startx command.
If you start it manually, you're probably not root, but your init scripts are run by root. So your root user might have a personal .xserverrc that changes the keyboard settings. Try to log in as root and type "startx", does the keyboard work? What if you are another user?
If that doesn't clarify the issue, look for local configuration files, analyse your initscripts and see how X is started in your 'graphical' runlevel, or the brute-force method: as root, type "cd / && grep -R Keyboard * | less". The latter will take some time, though.