Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A man page for xkeyboard-config

Command-line configuration of XKB keyboard maps usually involves setxkbmap:

setxkbmap -layout "foo" -variant "bar" -options "gobble:dygook"

The problem is though that you need to know your layout, your variant, and your options. And they're not always straightforward. What command would you use for a US querty and German Dvorak layout where the Meta key is on the left Windows key and Ctrl is mapped to the Caps Lock key? If you knew the answer [1] without looking it up first you're scaring me. Stay away from children please.

A few days ago Carl Worth asked a few XKB-configuration questions on IRC and amongst other things this led to yet another complaint about the lack of a man page. Which I answered with the usual "feel free to write one". Except that a few hours later I suddenly had the epiphany: we already have all this data - GNOME uses it just fine for its own keyboard configuration panel. A little later some XSL had been beaten into submission enough for me to proudly say that we now have a man page that lists every single option that you can pipe into setxkbmap. xkeyboard-config(7) for president!

This will be available in the next version, scheduled for September 27. Until then, see the git commit here. Fedora users: xkeyboard-config-2.3-2.fc16 and xkeyboard-config-2.3-2.fc15.

[1] setxkbmap -layout "us,de" -variant ",dvorak" \
-option "altwin:left_meta_win,ctrl:nocaps"
Obvious now, isn't it?

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