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Old 10-03-2012, 08:45 AM   #1
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Custom Keyboard Layout?

Hello all, I have a question that I think should have a fairly simple answer, but I can't be sure, and I can't seem to find the answer on Google (all my results are about how to change to another default keyboard layout, which I already know how to do). Anyhow, I am running Debian with XFCE4 (also have Fluxbox, but haven't had the time to set it up how I like it, so XFCE4 for now) and I want to try to set up a custom keyboard layout (I am also not opposed to using a default layout if there is one that is similar enough to what I need that one of you know of) that allows me to use alternate characters (the accented characters, and the N with a tilde over it) by simply pressing Ctrl+X where X is the normal version of the key. I have tried using the Spanish keyboard, as I am going to use this to type in Spanish, but having all my punctuation and non alphanumeric keys all over the place drives me nuts. Does anyone know where the key map files are and in what way I would edit them, or an easier way to do what I want? Many thanks!
Old 10-03-2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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Take a look at /usr/share/X11/locale/ at the compose files. I think there are some files for the keyboard layout but I can't remember now. I will repost if I find them.

Edit: Found some more. Look at /usr/share/keymaps/

Last edited by segmentation_fault; 10-03-2012 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:49 AM   #3
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There are four ways of getting accented letters:

1. Devote a whole key to the accented letter, as happens on many keyboard layouts at the expense of things like []{}.

2. Devote a key to a accent, so that if it generates a dead acute you can type that key, followed by "e", and get "". This has the same problem of eating up your keys.

3. Use a third level shift key (often called by Microsoft's odd term, "alternative graphics"); European keyboards label the right Alt as AltGR. In a Polish keyboard, TLS+s will give "ś". This is like your idea, but the problem with your idea is that the Control key is used by programs.

4. Use a compose key (the Windows menu key is a popular key to use), then Comp+^+e will produce "". The official compose sequences can be customised with a file ~/-XCompose.

There is a page in the wiki on this site that explains all this in more detail. Most distros will allow you to select keys for TLS and Comp with their keyboard configuration tool. Options 1-3 obviously require you to edit your language's keyboard definition file. So mine is /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gb; an American would have /usr/.../us. In the latter, you'd have a line like
key <AB06> { [ n, N ] };
Replacing it with
key <AB06> { [ n, N, , ] };
would give you "" with TLS+n and "" with TLS+Sh+n. Always make a backup of the file before altering it: if it's broken you may find yourself dumped in the command line!

Last edited by DavidMcCann; 10-03-2012 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:50 AM   #4
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Ah, thank you guys so much, I apologize for the long wait for response, I stupidly left my laptop charger at work, which made it difficult to work on, haha, I'm going to try the comp key method, I'll let you know how it goes!


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