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Remapping keyboard on recent distros that use evdev+hal

As you may have read on the previous post my Lenovo 3000 C200 needs a “patch” for its keyboard on X since slash/question/degree key is in an unusual place.

After a little research (grep -r saved my day) I found out that the configuration that used to reside on /etc/X11/xorg.conf is now on /etc/default/console-setup so the same rule for overriding keymaps is still valid. The corresponding configuration for recent distros is something like this:


Recent update: If you want further explanation of the X keyboard configurations an excellent guide (and by the way the one I used to figure out this) is “An Unreliable Guide to XKB Configuration” by Doug Palmer (Also available here)


Remapping keyboard keys on X

I’ll share this tip since it took me some time to figure out this fix. I guess it is quite common in notebook keyboard to have such unusual layouts as mine (below):

The first impression I had when I bought this notebook was: “I guess slashes and question marks aren’t here on normal abnt2 keyboards…” but… Windows came bundled in my laptop and it was already remapped.

Then I installed Ubuntu (I guess it was 7.10 by the time) and for my surprise… the key seemed dead until I figured out that Right Control was missing… in fact my slash/question mark key was the right control. So I started a long research to find out how to fix this and after some research I discovered for both X and console. The solution is:

  • For X

Create a file under /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols. I’ve named mine lenovo (guess why) and place this inside it:

partial modifier_keys
xkb_symbols "addslashes" {
key <RCTL> {  [ slash, question, degree ] };

Then modify your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and change XkbLayout section to this:

    Option        "XkbLayout"    "br+lenovo(addslashes)"

With this you override only this key from the original br keymap.

In order to find out the original key, in case you have a similar problem, run xev and have a look on the output. Mine looked like this (Control_R code confirms what I guessed, the key was in fact a Right control key):

KeyPress event, serial 34, synthetic NO, window 0x4a00001,
root 0x7a, subw 0x0, time 3139474, (430,712), root:(437,763),
state 0x0, keycode 105 (keysym 0xffe4, Control_R), same_screen YES,
XLookupString gives 0 bytes:
XmbLookupString gives 0 bytes:
XFilterEvent returns: False

  • For Console keys

In order to change console keys you need to change the following file: /etc/console-tools/remap

and place the key changes there. It works like a file replace. So in order to make the same change I’d have this content inside it.

s/keycode  97 = Control/keycode  97 = slash/
/keycode  97 = slash/ashift keycode  97 = question
/keycode  97 = question/aaltgr keycode  97 = degree

For some weird reason, Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04 wasn’t executing console remapping.

And at last, unfortunately this tip does not work anymore on upcoming Ubuntu 8.10 since it changed its key map control to use hal and evdev. So, I am back to where I was last year. If anyone by accident know how to do this in recent distros, please post a comment.


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