Consistent Keyboard Configuration

Eliminate inconsistent behavior from your keyboard by following the instructions in this article.
X Window System

Now start X as root. Change the directory to /etc/X11 and look at the file Xmodmap. Most likely, this file is empty, except for some comments. If not, rename it to Xmodmap.old, exit the window manager and restart X.

Starting with an empty Xmodmap is important, because when X comes up, it creates its keyboard modifier map and keymap table based on the kernel's current keyboard translation tables, which were just reconfigured. X then reads the Xmodmap file, which overrides the kernel. This could destroy some of the benefits of the work just completed on the kernel.

Since the kernel has already been reconfigured, the work of configuring X will be reduced by the work already done in creating Specifically, DELETE and BACKSPACE will still transmit DELETE and BACKSPACE, because X got that information from the kernel.

Now enter the following command to replace Xmodmap with the current keymap table:

# xmodmap -pke > /etc/X11/Xmodmap

Edit Xmodmap. It appears similar to the file, but do not be misled. The keycodes are different. To find the keycode number for a given key, run xev from an xterm, put the mouse cursor inside the xev window, and press the key. Look for the key's “keycode” in the output. For more information, see xev(1) and xmodmap(1).

Finally, to switch the Caps Lock and the left CTRL key, add these lines to the end of the file:

! Recreate the Lock and Control modifier maps.
clear Lock
clear Control
add Lock = Caps_Lock
add Control = Control_L Control_R

To be able to configure keys on the numeric keypad, they must be given an appropriate keysym following the equals sign. Therefore, change the following lines as shown:

keycode  63 = KP_Multiply
keycode  77 = KP_F1
keycode  79 = KP_7
keycode  80 = KP_8
keycode  81 = KP_9
keycode  82 = KP_Subtract
keycode  83 = KP_4
keycode  84 = KP_5
keycode  85 = KP_6
keycode  86 = KP_Add
keycode  87 = KP_1
keycode  88 = KP_2
keycode  89 = KP_3
keycode  90 = KP_0
keycode  91 = KP_Decimal
keycode 108 = KP_Enter
keycode 112 = KP_Divide
Keycodes 99 and 105 are assigned to the keysyms Prior and Next, respectively. Just as was done in, change them to the following keysyms, which are functionally equivalent, but match the keycaps:
keycode  99 = Page_Up
keycode 105 = Page_Down
Now save the file, then type:
# xmodmap /etc/X11/Xmodmap
to activate the new definitions. If your keyboard will not work at all, use CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE to exit X. Then use a virtual console to fix the problem.


The xterm program receives keysyms from X and converts them into characters and into escape sequences. Since xterm emulates a VT102 terminal, it requires little configuration work.

Edit the /etc/X11/Xresources file, and add the following line:

XTerm*ttyModes: erase ^H

This automatically makes BACKSPACE (CTRL-H) delete characters to the left of the cursor. It is the same as if the user typed:

$ stty erase ^H
every time an xterm was started. Also add this line:
XTerm*appkeypadDefault: true
This will cause the keys of the numeric keypad to transmit their escape sequences instead of numbers, operators, etc. It is the same as if the user pressed CTRL--MiddleButton and selected “Enable Application Keypad” in every xterm window.

Unfortunately, Emacs normally resets the numeric keypad when it exits, so the keys no longer transmit escape sequences. To correct this behavior, the “rmkx” capability must be removed from the terminfo(5) database:

# cd /etc/terminfo/x
# infocmp xterm > xterm.txt
# emacs xterm.txt

Remove the “rmkx” entry, save the file, and exit. Then:

# tic xterm.txt
# rm xterm.txt
It is also necessary to tell xterm what the ALT-Arrow keys transmit, and what the HOME and END editing keys transmit. (The default escape sequences that xterm uses for HOME and END are unconventional.) Type the first seven lines below. Then cut and paste the remaining lines from the xterm(1) man page, underneath the heading, “The default bindings in the VT102 window are.”
Alt <KeyPress> Up:string(0x1b) string(0x1b) string("OA")
Alt <KeyPress> Down:string(0x1b) string(0x1b) string("OB") \\n\\
Alt <KeyPress> Right:string(0x1b) string(0x1b) string("OC") \\n\\
Alt <KeyPress> Left:string(0x1b) string(0x1b) string("OD") \\n\\
<KeyPress> Home:string(0x1b) string("[1~") \\n\\
<KeyPress> End:string(0x1b) string("[4~") \\n\\
Shift <KeyPress> \
        Prior:scroll-back(1,halfpage) \\n\\
Shift <KeyPress> \
        Next:scroll-forw(1,halfpage) \\n\\
Shift <KeyPress> \
        Select:select-cursor-start() \\n\\
Shift <KeyPress> select-cursor-end(PRIMARY, \
        CUT_BUFFER0) \\n\\
Shift <KeyPress> Insert:insert-selection(PRIMARY,\
        CUT_BUFFER0) \\n\\
~Meta<KeyPress>:insert-seven-bit() \\n\\
Meta<KeyPress>:insert-eight-bit() \\n\\
!Ctrl <Btn1Down>:popup-menu(mainMenu) \\n\\
!Lock Ctrl <Btn1Down>:popup-menu(mainMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Ctrl <Btn1Down>:popup-menu(mainMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Lock Ctrl \
        <Btn1Down>:popup-menu(mainMenu) \\n\\
~Meta <Btn1Down>:select-start() \\n\\
~Meta <Btn1Motion>:select-extend() \\n\\
!Ctrl <Btn2Down>:popup-menu(vtMenu) \\n\\
!Lock Ctrl <Btn2Down>:popup-menu(vtMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Ctrl <Btn2Down>:popup-menu(vtMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Lock Ctrl \
        <Btn2Down>:popup-menu(vtMenu) \\n\\
~Ctrl ~Meta <Btn2Down>:ignore() \\n\\
~Ctrl ~Meta <Btn2Up>:insert-selection(PRIMARY, CUT_BUFFER0) \\n\\
!Ctrl <Btn3Down>:popup-menu(fontMenu) \\n\\
!Lock Ctrl <Btn3Down>:popup-menu(fontMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Ctrl <Btn3Down>:popup-menu(fontMenu) \\n\\
!Mod2 Lock Ctrl \
        <Btn3Down>:popup-menu(fontMenu) \\n\\
~Ctrl ~Meta <Btn3Down>:start-extend() \\n\\
~Meta <Btn3Motion>:select-extend() \\n\\
<BtnUp>>>>>>>>:select-end(PRIMARY, CUT_BUFFER0) \\n\\
Make sure each line ends exactly as shown, and there is not even a blank space after the last backslash on each line. Then change “Prior” to “Page_Up,” change “Next” to “Page_Down,” and change “Select” to “End” to match the keycaps.

ALT-Arrow transmits an ESCAPE (0x1b in hexadecimal) followed by the escape sequence for the arrow key, but ALT-<Keypress> sets the eighth bit of that key (examine the line that begins with “Meta<KeyPress>”). Also, the escape sequences for the ALT-arrow keys are not the same as were used in For a full explanation of this file's format, see the RESOURCES heading under X(1). Save the file. Type:

# xrdb /etc/X11/Xresources

to activate the definitions. The BACKSPACE key should now work properly the next time an xterm is started.



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Ctrl-m in emacs

softexp23's picture

How can I bind Ctrl-m to some command, in emacs, without binding return to that command. So how can I separate Ctrl-m from return ? And not using X. Cause I use emacs over ssh.


Re: Consistent Keyboard Configuration

jago25_98's picture


However, what do you do if the loadkeys command isn't present?

Ditto for the find command.