Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


load keyboard translation tables

see also : dumpkeys


loadkeys [ -b --bkeymap ] [ -c --clearcompose ] [ -C ’<FILE>’ | --console=<FILE> ] [ -d --default ] [ -h --help ] [ -m --mktable ] [ -q --quiet ] [ -s --clearstrings ] [ -u --unicode ] [ -v --verbose ] [ filename... ]

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loadkeys .keymap


The program loadkeys reads the file or files specified by filename.... Its main purpose is to load the kernel keymap for the console. You can specify console device by the -C (or --console ) option.

create binary keymap

If the -b (or --bkeymap ) option is given loadkeys prints to the standard output a file that may be used as a binary keymap as expected by Busybox loadkmap command (and does not modify the current keymap).

create kernel source table

If the -m (or --mktable ) option is given loadkeys prints to the standard output a file that may be used as /usr/src/linux/drivers/char- /defkeymap.c, specifying the default key bindings for a kernel (and does not modify the current keymap).



default directory for keymaps


default kernel keymap

load kernel accent table

If the input file does not contain any compose key definitions, the kernel accent table is left unchanged, unless the -c (or --clearcompose ) option is given, in which case the kernel accent table is emptied. If the input file does contain compose key definitions, then all old definitions are removed, and replaced by the specified new entries. The kernel accent table is a sequence of (by default 68) entries describing how dead diacritical signs and compose keys behave. For example, a line

compose ’,’ ’c’ to ccedilla

means that <ComposeKey><,><c> must be combined to <ccedilla>. The current content of this table can be see using ’dumpkeys --compose-only’.

load kernel keymap

The main function of loadkeys is to load or modify the keyboard driver’s translation tables. When specifying the file names, standard input can be denoted by dash (-). If no file is specified, the data is read from the standard input.

For many countries and keyboard types appropriate keymaps are available already, and a command like ’loadkeys uk’ might do what you want. On the other hand, it is easy to construct one’s own keymap. The user has to tell what symbols belong to each key. She can find the keycode for a key by use of showkey(1), while the keymap format is given in keymaps(5) and can also be seen from the output of dumpkeys(1).

load kernel string table

The option -s (or --clearstrings ) clears the kernel string table. If this option is not given, loadkeys will only add or replace strings, not remove them. (Thus, the option -s is required to reach a well-defined state.) The kernel string table is a sequence of strings with names like F31. One can make function key F5 (on an ordinary PC keyboard) produce the text ’Hello!’, and Shift+F5 ’Goodbye!’ using lines

keycode 63 = F70 F71
string F70 = "Hello!"
string F71 = "Goodbye!"

in the keymap. The default bindings for the function keys are certain escape sequences mostly inspired by the VT100 terminal.

other options

-h --help

loadkeys prints its version number and a short usage message to the programs standard error output and exits.

-q --quiet

loadkeys suppresses all normal output.

reset to default

If the -d (or --default ) option is given, loadkeys loads a default keymap, probably the file either in /usr/share/keymaps or in /usr/src/linux/drivers/char. (Probably the former was user-defined, while the latter is a qwerty keyboard map for PCs - maybe not what was desired.) Sometimes, with a strange keymap loaded (with the minus on some obscure unknown modifier combination) it is easier to type ’loadkeys defkeymap’.

unicode mode

loadkeys automatically detects whether the console is in Unicode or ASCII (XLATE) mode. When a keymap is loaded, literal keysyms (such as section) are resolved accordingly; numerical keysyms are converted to fit the current console mode, regardless of the way they are specified (decimal, octal, hexadecimal or Unicode).

The -u (or --unicode) switch forces loadkeys to convert all keymaps to Unicode. If the keyboard is in a non-Unicode mode, such as XLATE, loadkeys will change it to Unicode for the time of its execution. A warning message will be printed in this case.

It is recommended to run kbd_mode(1) before loadkeys instead of using the -u option.


Note that anyone having read access to /dev/console can run loadkeys and thus change the keyboard layout, possibly making it unusable. Note that the keyboard translation table is common for all the virtual consoles, so any changes to the keyboard bindings affect all the virtual consoles simultaneously.

Note that because the changes affect all the virtual consoles, they also outlive your session. This means that even at the login prompt the key bindings may not be what the user expects.

see also

dumpkeys , keymaps

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