Switching Caps Lock and Control on the keyboard (assuming you use
keymaps 0-15; check with
dumpkeys | head -1)
Switching them under X only:
% loadkeys keymaps 0-15 keycode 58 = Control keycode 29 = Caps_Lock %
% xmodmap .xmodmaprc
What is this about the key numbering? Backspace is 14 under Linux, 22 under X? Well, the numbering can best be regarded as arbitrary; the Linux number of a key can be found using showkey(1), and the X number using xev(1). Often the X number will be 8 more than the Linux number.
remove Lock = Caps_Lock remove Control = Control_L keysym Control_L = Caps_Lock keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L add Lock = Caps_Lock add Control = Control_L
Something else people like to change are the bindings of the function keys. Suppose that you want to make F12 produce the string "emacs ". Then
will do this. More explicitly, the procedure is like this: (i) find the keycodes of the keys to be remapped, using showkey(1). (ii) save the current keymap, make a copy and edit that:
% loadkeys keycode 88 = F12 string F12 = "emacs " %
The format of the table can be guessed by looking at the output of
% dumpkeys > my_keymap % cp my_keymap trial_keymap % emacs trial_keymap % loadkeys trial_keymap %
dumpkeys, and is documented in keymaps(5). When the new keymap functions as desired, you can put an invocation
/etc/rc.localor so, to execute it automatically at boot-up. Note that changing modifier keys is tricky, and a newbie can easily get into a situation only an expert can get out of.
The default directory for keymaps is
The default extension for keymaps is
loadkeys uk would probably load
(With kbd-0.95 and older this would be
(On my machine)
/dev/console is a symbolic link to
and the kernel regards
/dev/tty0 as a synonym for the current VT.
XFree86 1.3 changes the owner of
/dev/tty0, but does not reset this
after finishing. Thus,
dumpkeys might fail because
someone else owns
in such a case you might run X first.
Note that you cannot change keyboard mappings when not at the console
(and not superuser).
"Can the Shift, Ctrl and Alt keys be made to behave as toggles?"
Yes, after saying
the left Control, Shift and Alt keys will act as toggles. The numbers involved are revealed by showkey (and usually are 29, 97, 42, 54, 56, 100 for left and right control, shift and alt, respectively), and the functions are Control_Lock, Shift_Lock, Alt_Lock, ALtGr_Lock.
% loadkeys keymaps 0-15 keycode 29 = Control_Lock keycode 42 = Shift_Lock keycode 56 = Alt_Lock %
"What about `sticky' modifier keys?"
Since version 1.3.33, the kernel knows about `sticky' modifier keys. These act on the next key pressed. So, where one earlier needed the 3-symbol sequence Shift_Lock a Shift_Lock to type `A', one can now use the 2-symbol sequence SShift_Lock a. You can say
to make the right Shift, Ctrl, Alt sticky versions of the left ones. This will allow you to type Ctrl-Alt-Del in three keystrokes with one hand.
% loadkeys keymaps 0-15 keycode 54 = SShift keycode 97 = SCtrl keycode 100 = SAlt %
The keymaps line in these examples should cover all keymaps you have in use. You find what keymaps you have in use by
% dumpkeys | head -1
The following text was contributed by Piotr Mitros.
XFree86 supports an accessibility option which allows disabled users to type single-handed. With sticky keys enabled, the user can hit a modifier key (ctrl, alt, shift) followed by another key, rather than having to hold the modifier key while hitting the letter.
To enable sticky keys, first make sure the xkb extension is enabled
(this is done during initial
X server configuration and is usually
enabled by default). Next, run the
X server with the
option. If you use
startx, either run
startx -- +accessx or
+accessx to the serverargs line in the
If you use
+accessx to the appropriate server line
It is also possible to enable
X accessibility with some end-user
utilities with a running
X accessibility is enabled, press the shift key five times in a
row to enable sticky keys. To disable sticky keys, either press the
shift key five times again, or press a key while holding a modifier
XFree86 also supports Slow Keys, Repeat Keys, Bounce Keys and an
xkbcomp can be used to generate a
to enable these. The appropriate
xkbcomp commands are listed in
Unfortunately, the exact process is still undocumented.