Re: xkb options
On Fri, 20 Apr 2007 21:44:26 -0400
cga2000 <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Say, you are like myself fluent in English, Spanish, and French.
> Occasionally, you will need to enter text in any one of these three
> You have a US keyboard that doesn't have the relevant mappings either
> for French or Spanish.
> With a US keyboard, my understanding is that you have two options:
> 1. Switch keyboard mappings whenever you need to switch languages.
> 2. Use "extensions" to the US keyboard to enter those characters that
> do no have their dedicated key on my laptop.
> Option 1. is equivalent to unplugging your US keyboard and plugging in a
> French or Spanish keyboard on the fly.. The important thing here is why
> would you want to do that .. ? _As I understand it_ .. it means that
> you are fluent, I should say "literate" not with just the languages
> themselves .. but also .. and more importantly.. with the layout of
> these keyboards .. What this means is that for it to be in any way an
> effective data entry interface you need to have mastered _two_
> additional keyboard layouts so you can use them with as little overhead
> and inconvenience as you would your native keyboard layout.
> Option 2. is just a matter of finding some means of entering those
> characters that are not native to the US keyboard - there is no
> dedicated key that lets you enter and "o" with an acute accent on top ..
> or an "n" with a tilde on top on my keyboard .. etc. so I have to enter
> them via other means .. using a "compose" key .. using a timeout
> feature and a keymap (as in vim) .. using "dead keys" .. none are
> perfect but they all let you do the job effectively.
> My day-to-day experience is with option 2.
> For my own particular needs, I believe it is more effective than option
> 1.. because most of my interaction is in the "dominant" idiom.
> But if I spent half of my time typing in Spanish and half of my time
> typing in cyrillic, for instance .. it might be worth the effort of
> learning to type fluently on a Spanish keyboard and a Russian keyboard ..
> that's a lot of work, mind you .. but if you plan to do this for a
> number of years .. a lifetime, possibly .. then it could mean that
> switching keyboard layouts is the sensible choice.
I'm going for what you call option one; my alternate language doesn't
use the Latin alphabet, so it's an entirely different keymapping,
rather than just a few extra symbols to compose. I'm not yet fluent /
literate in the other keymapping, but I intend to become so, since I do
anticipate a lifetime of its use.
> When reading the above, please do keep in mind that the symbols that
> appear on your keyboard are immaterial. You cannot see them anyway when
> your fingers are on top of the keys, anyway, right?
I understand that. I'm actually currently using dvorak7m to teach
myself touch typing using the dvorak keymapping, and I'm using an
ordinary qwerty keyboard. I switch back and forth with 'setxkbmap
dvorak' / 'setxkbmap us.
> As a multilingual person, I often think that in the long run, a third
> option might prove less of a headache .. you set up a collection of
> "thin clients" with different keyboards based on the languages that you
> are familiar with and just use them to connect to a server that handles
> them all transparently .. so with nimble footwork you would just need
> to propel yourself from one workstation to the other whenever you need
> to switch ..
I really need to learn to touch type properly, and then there will
really be no reason not to use the same keyboard for everything,
switching on the fly with 'setkkbmap' or something like I mentioned
above (e.g. 'grp:ctrl_rwin_toggle'). Why wouldn't that be the optimal
> > > I do understand the above may not be your primary concern .. as well as
> > > your frustration and the desire to figure out why it's not working the
> > > way it's advertised, though. I'm curious as well.
> > >
> > > I have only one Windows key on this laptop and I have remapped to CTRL
> > > so I can reach it comfortably with my left thumb.
> > >
> > > Please let us know when you find something.
> > >
> > > Thanks,
> > > cga
> > A bit more information (and a correction) about my issues:
> > Here's what various option settings do on my system:
> > win_switch - either win key temporarily switches keyboard layout
> > win_toggle - no effect (either win key)
> > rwin_switch - right win key temporarily switches keyboard layout
> > rwin_toggle - right win key permanently switches keyboard layout
> > shift_win_switch - no effect
> > shift_rwin_switch - no effect
> > ctrl_shift_switch - no effect (keys seem to behave just as they do when
> > pressed together with ctrl_shift without the option being set)
> > ctrl_shift_toggle - permanently switch keyboard layout
> > Can someone point me to an explanation of how to interpret these
> > combinations?
> > Incidentally, here's the output of 'xmodmap -pm':
> > > xmodmap: up to 3 keys per modifier, (keycodes in parentheses):
> > >
> > > shift Shift_L (0x32), Shift_R (0x3e)
> > > lock Caps_Lock (0x42)
> > > control Control_L (0x25), Control_R (0x6d)
> > > mod1 Alt_L (0x40), Alt_L (0x7d), Meta_L (0x9c)
> > > mod2 Num_Lock (0x4d)
> > > mod3
> > > mod4 Super_L (0x7f), Hyper_L (0x80)
> > > mod5 Mode_switch (0x5d), ISO_Level3_Shift (0x7c)
> > According to 'xev', the win keys produce 'Super_L' and 'Super_R'
> Good luck. Hope you get to the bottom of this .. it would be nice if
> you wrote a document that describes these aspects. There are lots of
> docs around that do tell you a few things but none that I know of that
> really explains how this really works .. how it's done .. and more
> importantly .. what the original designers had in mind when they came up
> with this.
> I have a feeling that if you really want to figure it out you may have
> to look at the code.
I certainly agree with you about the lack of proper user documentation.
I don't think my current priorities allow me to spend a lot of time
combing through the code, even if I was sufficiently technically adept
to do so.
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