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Old 04-07-2004, 06:14 AM   #1
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Question Linux as VMWare guest - Alt-Gr not working correctly

I am trying to get a rather non-standard setup to work:
My company has a big Win 2003 box which stands around largely unused. Luckily, our admin installed VMWare on it, so I decided to put this machine's RAM and CPUs to good use by installing Linux in VMWare and use this Linux either directly (i.e. within the VMWare window) or preferrably via XDMCP using a local XServer on my (WinXP-)workstation. I should also mention that I do not have physical access to the Windows server, so I use WinXP's "Remote Desktop Connection".
So to sum it up: I have a WinXP workstation, running rdp to the Win 2003 server which runs VMWare which runs Linux (Suse 9.0 BTW). I have direct network access to the Linux instance using bridged networking in VMWare (i.e. Linux has an externally visible IP)

Now to the problem: I am using a german keyboard layout, and the Alt-Gr key in my guest Linux gives me quite a headache. It works only sporadically, i.e. when I press and hold Alt-Gr e.g. to create a "bar" (|) character, it works sometimes, but usually it will not work. This is the same whether I access Linux via the VMWare window or use XDMCP from my workstation, and it occurs both on the text consoles (Ctrl-Alt-F1 to F6) and in X. I tried different keyboard mappings in the KDE control center, tried some tweaks in the keyboard section of XF86config, none of them had any effect.
I used xev to analyze scan codes. It appears that in addition to the "ISO_Level3_Shift that is supposed to be caused by Alt-Gr, in about 90% of the cases an additional Control_L keycode is generated. Since the combination of Ctrl + Alt-Gr does not produce any characters, it makes no wonder that I can't produce |{[]} etc. that way. In some cases releasing Alt-Gr will not produce a "release Control_L" event leaving me with a stuck control key (which can be curred by typing control once).

Any ideas what could be the cause of the problem? I found many descriptions of problems concerning the use of Alt-Gr on this page and many other pages dedicated to Linux, but none quite fit (or solved) my problem.

I also tried to use a local linux installation and rdesktop to connect to the Win2003 server, to see if is a problem with Windows' remote desktop connection, but whenever I type "Alt-Gr" in the rdesktop window, rdesktop complains that it cannot transmit this keycode. Is there a way to tell rdesktop to transmit Alt-Gr?
Old 11-22-2004, 05:57 AM   #2
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I do have exactly the same behaviour as you describe, except that I have a different configuration.

I work remotely from my home Windows 2000 computer via Remote Desktop Connection on a remote Windows XP machine. I frequently get the sticky Alt-Gr problem. Hitting Alt-Gr once restores normal function again. (Ctrl may work too, haven't tried that yet.)

The Alt-Gr characters on my keyboard (|, \, {, }, #, [, ], , `) do work normally, except when working from the remote XP in an xterm on a UNIX server (using Exceed). Most often I can type such a character once in the xterm, but not a second time. Hitting Alt-Gr does not restore normal function here.

When I am physically located at the XP machine, I don't have any of these problems. Neither do I have them on my Windows 2000 machine when I am not connected to the XP machine.

What is important here is that the common element between our two situations is the Remote Desktop Connection. I always suspected RDC but now I think the guilt is clear. The solution not, unfortunately. The problem is really annoying. Any help would be appreciated.

Old 11-27-2005, 05:39 AM   #3
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Location: Hamburg
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Maybe a solution


maybe the problem is no longer of interest, but it was recently frustrating me.

I installed suse linux 10.0 under vmware which itself runs on a win2003server.
My remote-PC runs a winXP-installation (SP2). But I remember having the
alt+gr-problem using a linux installation with rdesktop (
a couple of moths ago.

Here is the solution that works for me:
After pressing (and releasing) the keys Shift+Alt everything works fine.

Somehow the hot-key for switching between vmware and the host (shift+alt+ctrl)
and the one switching between my remote-Session and my PC (ctrl+alt+break) collide in some way.
So, depending on your hot-keys for switching, just try out and find your combination
of modifier-keys (ctrl, shift, alt).

I hope that this will help.


Last edited by Asterion; 11-27-2005 at 05:42 AM.


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