keyboard(5)keyboard(5)NAMEkeyboard - Using keyboards for different native languages
The keyboard lets you type not only the characters printed on the key‐
caps, 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 key‐
board's model and language. If you load a keymap that does not corre‐
spond 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.
Setting the Correct Keyboard for Login
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 choose not to use the keys that are set for
the system-default keyboard, you must use one of the following two
methods to change the system default keyboard: Change the keyboard lan‐
guage at the console prompt
In this case, the system recognizes the hardware layout of the
keyboard (PCXAL, for example), but requires more input with
respect to how characters are mapped to specific keys. The X
server, which has control of the system at the time users log
on, recognizes keyboard language changes set at the console
prompt. Change the keymap used by the X server by editing the
This is the only option for changing the system-default keyboard
when the keyboard language you need is not one of those listed
at the console level. Using this option also overrides at login
time any keyboard setting made at the console level. In this
case, you are specifying a keymap file to the X server. A keymap
specification must be correct from both the hardware perspective
(keyboard layout) and how characters are mapped to specific
Edit the /usr/var/X11/Xserver.conf file by adding the -xkbmap
option to the arguments list after the -pn option:
! you specify command line arguments here args < -pn -xkbmap
! you specify command line arguments here args < -pn-xkbmap
This example changes the system-default keyboard to be a PCXAL
hardware layout and Japanese JIS character entry. For more
information about editing the Xserver.conf file, see Xdec(1X).
For more extensive information about keyboard use and changing
the keyboard setting after login, see dxkeyboard(1).
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 (dxkey‐
board) 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 xkb format. However, you can load
keymaps in xmodmap format if you prefer. Note that any changes made to
the keyboard setting using dxkeyboard do not affect the keyboard set‐
ting that applies when you are logging on the system. Only the system-
default keyboard setting affects system login.
Loading Keymaps in xkb Format
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.
The Keyboard Option dialog box displays two selection lists From
the Language list in the dialog box, choose the language for
your keyboard. From the Keyboard Type list in the dialog box,
choose the model of your keyboard. Click on the Apply or OK
All supported keyboard models are not represented in the Keyboard Type
selection list displayed by the dxkeyboard application.
Loading Keymaps in xmodmap Format
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 corre‐
sponds to your keyboard model and language. Use the following command
to load the keymap:
% /usr/bin/X11/xmodmap /usr/lib/X11/keymaps/name.keymap
Using the Keyboard
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 Shift while pressing the letter key
to enter the letter in uppercase. However, keyboards that support cer‐
tain 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 lan‐
guage. 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.
Because support is retired for LK-series keyboards for Turbochannel
machines (LK20*, LK40*, and LK42*), the discussion in this reference
page focuses on PC-style keyboards and supported VT-style keyboards.
For information on retired VT-style keyboards, refer to the reference
pages for specific languages or those included with earlier versions of
the operating system.
PREFIX AND MODIFIER KEYS
Both the VT-style and PC-style 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 con‐
tains additional modifier and prefix keys. Modifier keys are pressed in
combination with another key, to modify the code sent by that key. Pre‐
fix keys are pressed and released before pressing another key, to
change the function of one or more keystrokes that follow.
Lock and Shift, which are found on the typewriter keyboard, are exam‐
ples of keys that are implemented as modifier or prefix keys for
PC-style keyboards. Ctrl, Alt, and Compose, not found on typewriter
keyboards, are also examples of keycap engravings that identify a modi‐
fier or prefix key. However, the engraved names and functions of modi‐
fier and prefix 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
Shift keys (whose keycap engraving is usually Shift) 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 the
VT-style and PC-style 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 VT-style and PC-style
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 environ‐
ment provides for general keyboard setup. In the Common Desktop Envi‐
ronment (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 releas‐
ing 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 press‐
ing 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 lan‐
guages on VT-style keyboards, 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.
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 VT-style and PC-style key‐
boards have two alternate-function keys, one on each side of the main
For PC-style keyboards supporting languages other than American Eng‐
lish, the alternate-function key on the right side is engraved with Alt
Gr, rather than Alt.
INPUT METHODS FOR CHARACTER ENTRY
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 lan‐
guage. 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 usu‐
ally 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.
Entering Characters Engraved on the Keycaps
The keycaps on keyboards for languages supported by the ISO Latin char‐
acter 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. Key‐
boards on which two alphabets appear (English and native-language) sup‐
port languages, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, whose alphabets are
very different from English. The number of supported alphabets deter‐
mines 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 alpha‐
bet: 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 combina‐
tion with the key to enter the character engraved on the top left of
the keycap. Purely alphabetic keys usually have only the uppercase let‐
ters (entered in combination with the Shift key) engraved on the key‐
cap. In this case, pressing the key by itself enters the lowercase let‐
ter. 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
In this case, the keyboard selection application for your win‐
dows environment displays both a typewriter (TW) option and a
data-processing (DP) option for the combination of keyboard and
language you are using. The typewriter keymap is loaded by
default and you must replace this with the data-processing
keymap to enter the additional characters. Use the key that
performs the group-shift keyboard function if this function is
supported for your language and keyboard. See the section titled
``Group-Shift Input Method'' for more information.
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 charac‐
ter 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.
Group-Shift Input Method
The group-shift keyboard function allows you to enter the Group 2 char‐
acters (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 VT-style keyboards and for all PC-style
keyboards having keycaps with more than two characters.
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.
This entry method also applies to characters engraved in the
middle right position of the keycap. Characters are engraved in
this position when a key supports three, rather than four, char‐
acters. Enter the top right character by holding down the Shift
key along with the group-shift and character keys.
For VT-style keyboards, the group-shift function is assigned to the
compose-character key (usually engraved with Compose orGroup Shift ) on
the left side of the main keypad.
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).
Mode-Switch Input Method
Keyboards for languages, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, support
input of characters in two different alphabets (English and native-lan‐
guage) without reloading a keymap. On the alphabetic keys of these key‐
boards, 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 PC-style keyboards, press the right control key (Right Ctrl) to tog‐
gle input mode between English and the native language.
Dead-Key Input Method for Characters Missing From Keyboard
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 (dia‐
critical) 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 diacrit‐
ical mark by itself).
Keys defined as nonspacing diacritical characters do not send the char‐
acter 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
The following table specifies diacritical characters defined as non‐
spacing 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
gian 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 nonspac‐
ing 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
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 key‐
board 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 diacriti‐
cal marks as nonspacing and therefore do not support the dead-key input
Compose-Character Input Method for Characters Missing From Keyboard
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
The compose-key input method consists of the following two steps: Press
and release the key defined as the multikey for your keyboard. The key‐
cap for this key is often engraved with Compose. Enter the two-charac‐
ter 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,
press and release the Compose key on the right side of the main keypad
You can use the Compose key on either side of the keyboard for
American English and Portuguese. For these languages, the Left
Compose key has not been redefined to perform another function.
On PC-style keyboards, hold down the alternate-function key on
the left side of the main keypad while pressing the space bar
The Left Alt+Space key sequence conflicts with the key sequence
used to open a menu on an active window. If you are using a PC
-stylekeyboard in the CDE environment and do not need to use
the compose-character input method, you can redefine this key
sequence to open menus in the following way:
Edit the file /usr/i18n/dt/config/locale/sys.dtwmrc and remove
the comment character (#) from the beginning of the following
# Alt<Key>space icon|window f.post_wmenu Restart the
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
Compose-character sequences and their resulting characters vary accord‐
ing to the coded character set (codeset) that supports your keyboard
and language. See the appropriate codeset reference page
(iso8859-1(5), for example) for the compose-character sequences you can
Directory containing data and keymaps in xkb format Directory contain‐
ing keymaps in xmodmap format