keyboard - Using keyboards for different native languages
The keyboard lets you type not only the characters printed on the keycaps, but all the characters from the character set for the language that your keyboard supports.
For your keyboard to function correctly with your system, you must load
a keyboard mapping table (keymap) that is appropriate for your keyboard's
model and language. If you load a keymap that does not correspond to your
keyboard's model and language, your keyboard behavior is unpredictable. The
label located on the bottom surface of a keyboard usually specifies its model
(five letter code) and language (two letter code). See the reference page
for the native language you are using
(Spanish(5), for example)
to find tables that associate keyboard styles and models with keymap names.
When any user logs on to a system, the system-default keyboard setting must be appropriate for the keys that the user presses when entering characters in the username and password fields. Otherwise, characters that are correct from the user perspective, given the keyboard being used, may be treated as invalid. In this case, the user cannot log on the the system. This situation most often arises when a keyboard is being used in one language and the system-default keyboard setting is another language. If you will not use keys as set for the system-default keyboard, you must use one of the following two methods to change the system default keyboard: Change the keyboard language at the console prompt
The operating system supports keymaps in xmodmap format, xkb format, or both formats. Note that xkb format is recommended, and keymaps for new keyboards may be available only in that format.
After logging on, you can use the Keyboard Options application (dxkeyboard) to change your keyboard setting during a CDE session.
The next two sections describe how to do this. In CDE, selecting keyboards
through menu choices loads keymaps in
you can load keymaps in
format if you prefer. Note
that any changes made to the keyboard setting using
do not affect the keyboard setting that applies when you are logging on the
system. Only the system-default keyboard setting affects system login.
During a CDE session, use the following steps to load a keymap in xkb format: Click on the Application Manager's icon on the Front Panel. Double click on the Desktop_Apps icon to show the Desktop Applications. Double click on the Keyboard Options icon.
All supported keyboard models are not represented in the Keyboard Type
selection list displayed by the
Use the following steps to load a keymap in xmodmap format: Check the /usr/lib/X11/keymaps directory to find the name.keymap file that corresponds to your keyboard model and language. Use the following command to load the keymap:
For most native languages, you usually enter characters by using a one-
or two-key sequence. For example, you press a letter key to enter a letter
in lowercase and hold down
while pressing the letter
key to enter the letter in uppercase. However, keyboards that support certain
languages may support more than two characters per keycap. When using these
keyboards, you have to press several keys, either at the same time or in sequence,
to enter some of the characters in the language. The following sections describe
the prefix and modifier keys used for different kinds of character input methods
and then provide instructions on using those input methods.
Both the VT and PC styles of keyboards group keys by function into four subsets, or keypads. This discussion is only about the main keypad and not the auxilliary keypads.
The main keypad, which is similar to a typewriter keyboard, contains the keys with alphanumeric characters, punctuation marks, the space bar, and Shift keys. Unlike a typewriter keyboard, the main keypad contains additional modifier and prefix keys. Modifier keys are pressed in combination with another key, to modify the code sent by that key. Prefix keys are pressed and released before pressing another key, to change the function of one or more keystrokes that follow.
Shift, which are found
on the typewriter keyboard, are examples of keys that are implemented as modifier
or prefix keys for VT and PC style keyboards.
Compose, not found on typewriter keyboards,
are also examples of keycap engravings that identify a modifier or prefix
key. However, the engraved names and functions of modifier and prefix keys
vary between the VT and PC keyboard styles. Even within a given keyboard style,
the engraved names and functions of these keys may differ from one native
language to another.
Control keys (whose keycap engraving usually is Ctrl) are most often used to send a control (nonprintable) character to the host system. For example, holding down Ctrl while pressing the letter C usually sends a sequence that stops, or aborts, an operation. However, a control key is sometimes used in conjunction with other modifier keys to perform some special keyboard functions.
On VT style keyboards, there is one control key, which is located on
the left side of the main keypad. On PC style keyboards, there are two control
keys, which are located on the left and right sides of the main keypad.
Shift keys (whose keycap engraving is usually
cause a standard key to send an uppercase character for alphabetic keys or
shifted (top) character for nonalphabetic keys. There are two Shift keys on
both the VT and PC styles of keyboards. Holding down Shift while pressing
a standard key sends the uppercase character on alphabetic keys or shifted
(top) character engraved on nonalphabetic keys.
The lock key (whose keycap engraving usually includes Lock) can put the keyboard in Caps Lock mode or Shift Lock mode. On both VT and PC styles of keyboards, there is one lock key, which is located on the left side of the main keypad.
You can set the lock mode (Caps Lock mode or Shift Lock mode) for your keyboard by using the interface that your windows application environment provides for general keyboard setup. In the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), you choose the Keyboard application. (The path name for this application is /usr/dt/bin/dxkeyboard.)
In Caps Lock mode, the alphabetic keys send their uppercase (shifted)
character when pressed alone. For Caps Lock mode, pressing and releasing the
lock key turns on the mode and pressing and releasing the lock key again turns
off the mode. In Shift Lock mode, all keys on the main keypad send their shifted
character when pressed alone. For Shift Lock mode, pressing and releasing
the Lock key turns on the mode, and pressing and releasing either the Lock
or the Shift key turns off the mode.
Compose-character keys (often engraved with Compose) were originally designed to prefix a sequence of keystrokes. However, for most languages on VT style keyboards (except the LK201), the left compose-character key has been redefined to be the group-shift or alternate-function key.
PC style keyboards do not include Compose keys. The VT style LK201 keyboard
contains one Compose key on the left side of the main keypad. Other VT style
keyboards contain two Compose keys, one on each side of the main keypad.
Alternate-function keys (usually engraved with Alt or Alt Gr) either select alternate functions defined by application software or generate characters not present on the keyboard. The PC style and most VT style keyboards have two alternate-function keys, one on each side of the main keypad.
For the VT style keyboard, LK201, no key is defined by default to be an alternate-function key. However, the one Compose key, located on the left side of the keyboard can be redefined to be an alternate-function key.
For PC style keyboards supporting languages other than American English,
the alternate-function key on the right side is engraved with
Gr, rather than
This reference page does not discuss complex input methods used to input characters in Asian languages. See the Chinese(5), Japanese(5), Korean(5), and Thai(5) reference pages for information about input methods used with a particular Asian language.
The alphanumeric and punctuation characters used for a particular native
language are usually all present on the keyboard for that language. Depending
on the number of characters in the alphabet for the language, it is sometimes
necessary to engrave more than two characters per keycap. In this case, the
more frequently used characters are usually engraved on the left side of the
keycaps and the less frequently used characters on the right side of the keycaps.
Characters on the left side of the keycap are called Group 1 characters and
those on the right side of the keycap are called Group 2 characters.
The keycaps on keyboards for languages supported by the ISO Latin character sets can be engraved with characters from one or two alphabets. Keyboards on which only one alphabet appears support languages, such as Czech, French, and German, whose alphabets are similar to English. Keyboards on which two alphabets appear (English and native-language) support languages, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, whose alphabets are very different from English. The number of supported alphabets determines the input method used to enter characters engraved on the right side of keycaps.
For keyboards that support ISO Latin character sets and only one alphabet: Enter the characters engraved on the left half of keycaps in the ordinary way. That is, press the key itself to enter the character engraved on the bottom left of its keycap and press Shift in combination with the key to enter the character engraved on the top left of the keycap. Purely alphabetic keys usually have only the uppercase letters (entered in combination with the Shift key) engraved on the keycap. In this case, pressing the key by itself enters the lowercase letter. Enter the characters engraved on the right half of keycaps in one of the following ways: Load a keyboard mapping table (keymap) that is different from the default
For keyboards that support ISO Latin character sets and two alphabets:
Enter the characters engraved on the upper left corner of
the keycaps in the usual way, by pressing the key by itself to enter the lowercase
letter (or bottom left character) and pressing Shift with that key to enter
the uppercase letter (or top left character).
Enter the character engraved on the lower right corner of
the keycaps by using a mode-switch key or key sequence. See the section titled ``Mode-Switch
Input Method'' for more information.
The group-shift keyboard function allows you to enter the Group 2 characters (engraved on the right half of keycaps) without changing the keyboard mapping table.
Support for the group-shift function depends in part on whether the keymap loaded for your keyboard is in xkb or xmodmap format. When you set your keyboard option using the Keyboard application in the Common Desktop Environment, xkb format is used.
If you load a keymap in xkb format, the operating system supports the group-shift function for most ISO Latin keyboards, both VT and PC styles. The exceptions are keyboards for languages, such as American English and Portuguese, that do not need more than two characters assigned to the same keycap.
If you load a keymap in xmodmap format, support for the group-shift function is available for: All PC style keyboards having keycaps with more than two characters VT style keyboards, except the LK201
Assuming that the loaded keymap supports the group-shift function, you enter characters on the right side of keycaps in the following way: Enter the bottom right character by holding down the key defined to be the group-shift key along with the character key.
The key defined to perform the group-shift function varies according to keyboard style, as follows: For VT style keyboards, the group-shift function is assigned to the compose-character key (usually engraved with Compose) on the left side of the main keypad. On some VT style keyboards, the keycap engraving for this key might be Group Shift rather than Compose. For PC style keyboards, the group-shift function is assigned to the alternate-function key on the right side of the main keypad. For most languages, this key is engraved with Alt Gr rather than Alt.
The effect of the group-shift key is only temporary. This means that you need to press the group-shift key each time you enter a Group 2 character (engraved on the right side of the keycap).
Keyboards for languages, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, support input of characters in two different alphabets (English and native-language) without reloading a keymap. On the alphabetic keys of these keyboards, characters of the native-language alphabet are engraved on the bottom right of the keycaps and characters in the English alphabet are engraved on the top left of the keycaps.
On these keyboards, you use a mode-switch key or key sequence to toggle
input mode between English and the native language. Use the following keys
to perform the mode-switch function:
For VT style keyboards, hold down the control key while pressing
the left Compose key (Ctrl+Left Compose)
For PC style keyboards, press the right control key (Right
Some languages supported by ISO Latin character sets have alphabets that contain so many characters that they cannot all be engraved on the keycaps of the main keypad. The missing characters are most often glyphs composed of a base Latin letter and a top or bottom accent (diacritical) mark. The keyboards for these languages support the dead-key input method to enter the additional characters. The term ``dead'' means that certain characters, usually the diacritical marks, are defined to be nonspacing characters.
The dead-key input method consists of typing a two-stroke sequence (pressing and releasing the key for the nonspacing diacritical mark and then pressing and releasing the the key for the base character) to send the corresponding ``accented'' character. Typing a space as the base character sends the code for the spacing diacritical mark (the diacritical mark by itself).
Keys defined as nonspacing diacritical characters do not send the character code immediately (do not echo), but instead modify the code of the character entered next. The modified character code is sent only if the diacritical and following character can be combined to form a valid character in the character set supported by the keyboard. If the key combination does not result in a valid character, no character is sent. In addition, an audible warning sounds if the ``bell'' is enabled for your keyboard.
The following table specifies diacritical characters defined as nonspacing for use with the dead-key input method on VT style keyboards.
| Nonspacing Diacritical Characters
| C D D
| i D o b
| C c i t l
| e u a M O
| A B C d m r A A G a g R T T
| c r a i f e b c r c o r i o -------------------+ u e r l l s o u a r n i l n
VT Style | t v o l e i v t v o e n d o
Keyboard for: | e e n a x s e e e n k g e s -------------------+-------------------------------------------- Belgian French * * * * Czech * * * Flemish * * * * French * * * * French Canadian * * * German * * * * * * * Greek * * * Hungarian * * * Lithuanian * * Polish * * Portuguese * * * * Slovak * * * * Spanish * * * * * Swiss French * * * * Swiss German * * * * ----------------------------------------------------------------
The following table specifies the diacritical marks defined as nonspacing for use with the dead-key input method on PC style keyboards.
| C D D
| i D o b
| C c i t l
| e u a M O
| A B C d m r A A G a g R T T
| c r a i f e b c r c o r i o -------------------+ u e r l l s o u a r n i l n
PC Style | t v o l e i v t v o e n d o
Keyboard for: | e e n a x s e e e n k g e s -------------------+------------------------------------------- Belgian French * * * * * Czech * * * * * * * Danish * * * * * Dutch * * * * * * Finnish * * * * * French * * French Canadian * * * * * German * * * Greek * * * Hungarian * * * * * * * * * * * * Lithuanian * * Norwegian * * * * * Polish * * * * * * * * * Portuguese * * * * * Serb/Croat/Slovene * * * Slovak * * * * Spanish * * * * Swedish * * * * * Swiss French * * * * * Swiss German * * * * * Turkish F * Turkish Q * ---------------------------------------------------------------
The number of nonspacing diacritical characters defined for the keyboard may vary from those shown in the tables, depending on the type and generation of the keyboard.
Keyboards for languages not shown in the tables do not define diacritical marks as nonspacing and therefore do not support the dead-key input method.
In addition to or in place of the dead-key input method, your keyboard may support the compose-character, or multikey, input method. Like the dead-key input method, the compose-character input method allows you to enter characters that are not present on your keyboard. You can enter the full range of characters supported by the keyboard character set, which encompasses more characters than those in a particular native language.
The compose-key input method consists of the following two steps: Press and release the key defined as the multikey for your keyboard. The keycap for this key is often engraved with Compose. Enter the two-character pair that composes the resulting character. You can type these characters in any sequence (with a few exceptions). Do not hold down the keys simultaneously.
Use the following keys for this input method: On VT style keyboards, other than LK201, press and release the Compose key on the right side of the main keypad (Right Compose)
If, after entering compose-character mode, you type a character pair that is invalid, no character code is sent. In addition, an audible warning sounds if the ``bell'' is enabled for your keyboard.
The compose-character input method requires three to four keystrokes to enter a character whereas the dead-key input method requires two to three keystrokes. If your keyboard supports both input methods for entry of a particular character, the dead-key input method is more efficient.
Compose-character sequences and their resulting characters vary according
to the coded character set (codeset) that supports your keyboard and language.
See the appropriate codeset reference page
example) for the compose-character sequences you can use.
Directory containing data and keymaps in xkb format Directory containing keymaps in xmodmap format