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Portal/IDB/logo_portal.png Welcome to the Debian portal for keyboard information

Keyboard configuration

To configure the keyboard, you have to install keyboard-configuration. The package console-setup is also needed.

The keyboard settings are stored in /etc/default/keyboard file. It's provided by keyboard-configuration package, and other packages use this information in order to configure the keyboard on the console or in X Window System.

You can change your keyboard settings using:

# dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
# service keyboard-setup restart

As usual, it will prompt you for the model of keyboard (what the keyboard *is*), and then for the keyboard layout (what the keys should *do*). Use this tool to change your keyboard map, e. g. from QWERTY to QWERTZ or to Dvorak, or for non-English layouts.

To apply new settings, restarting the keyboard-setup service should suffice, otherwise you can try to restart kernel input system via udev:

udevadm trigger --subsystem-match=input --action=change

or reboot the whole OS.

You can also edit /etc/default/keyboard manually, here's an example:

# KEYBOARD CONFIGURATION FILE

# Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.

XKBMODEL="pc105"
XKBLAYOUT="us,de,fr,ua,ru"
XKBVARIANT=""
XKBOPTIONS="grp:alt_shift_toggle"

BACKSPACE="guess"

See also:

How to set keyboard layout in initramfs

The appropriate section of /etc/initramfs-tools/initramfs.conf needs to be changed to have a localized keyboard layout at boot time:

#
# KEYMAP: [ y | n ]
#
# Load a keymap during the initramfs stage.
#

KEYMAP=y

Apply changes:

# update-initramfs -u

How to enable USB keyboard in initramfs

The initramfs-tools must include the usbhid module and its dependencies for USB keyboard support at boot time. Either the configuration file /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/driver-policy must include most modules, or they will have to be specified in another file:

#
# MODULES: [ most | netboot | dep | list ]
#
# most - Add most filesystem and all harddrive drivers.
#
# dep - Try and guess which modules to load.
#
# netboot - Add the base modules, network modules, but skip block devices.
#
# list - Only include modules from the 'additional modules' list
#

MODULES=most

If the configuration above was not set to include most modules, then the necessary modules have to be specified in the file /etc/initramfs-tools/modules:

# USB keyboard at boot
usbcore
uhci_hcd
ehci_hcd
usbhid

Apply changes:

# update-initramfs -u

How to switch a keyboard layout in X11 / graphical desktop environment

KDE does this via System_settings/Hardware/Input_devices/keyboard - Most people doing dual languages will simply select the correct keyboard model and then go to the layout tab and select English(US International ?AltGr Unicode combining,alternative ). (There is much on this page that is out of date for Stretch - needs a total rewrite by someone that knows more than I do. The names for the international keyboard layouts changed between jessie and stretch - not finding documentation. ).

Use your favorite desktop keyboard layout switcher applet. You can also switch the layout from the terminal, e. g.:

$ setxkbmap de
$ setxkbmap fr
$ setxkbmap us

Of special interest for keyboard hardware with us layout might be the altgr-intl variant (this provides a simple AltGr mapping for many umlauts and special symbols):

$ setxkbmap -rules evdev -model evdev -layout us -variant altgr-intl

or

$ setxkbmap -model pc105 -layout us -variant altgr-intl

To configure a simple key for toggling between multiple configured keyboard layouts, see Option XkbOptions in Section InputClass somewhere within the xorg config file collection (see [SOLVED] Setxkbmap .xinitrc).

Enabling extra keyboard layouts in Gnome

These layouts include minor languages and dialects, as well as very specific configurations, and are hidden by default in the GUI. The only way to make them visible is to enable the corresponding setting in gconf:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.input-sources show-all-sources true

For more information on this issue see https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=682240.