The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Compose Key on Xfce

Since the compose key is one of my favorite things in Linux, I was rather disappointed not to immediately find an obvious means of configuring it in Xfce. Not to worry, the slightly unintuitive but still easy method of configuring the compose key consists of adding the Keyboard Layouts widget to one of your panels.

The Xfce Keyboard Layouts widget showing the option of which key to use as compose.

As much as I love the portability, readability, and power of plain-text configuration, for just setting a compose key I don’t think it can get much better than the Gnome keyboard configuration dialog. The easiest alternative method would seem to be xmodmap, which should work in any desktop environment, not just Xfce. But of course it didn’t, because Xfce somehow overwrites those settings. For the sake of completeness, here’s what I tried in ~/.Xmodmap:

clear Lock
keysym Caps_Lock = Multi_key

It might be better to use to setxkbmap.

So there you have it. I haven’t yet figured out the ideal way of setting up my keyboard, but as long as it works I’m not too bothered yet.


  1. The Debian Wiki directed me toward what is probably the easiest way to set this up on Debian and derivatives under any desktop environment: sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration, which will probably require the installation of the keyboard-configuration package. It assists in the creation of a /etc/default/keyboard file. For more information, see man keyboard.

    September 25, 2014 @ 10:04Permalink

  2. For good measure, this is what my /etc/default/keyboard looks like at the moment.

    $ cat /etc/default/keyboard 
    # Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.

    September 25, 2014 @ 17:32Permalink

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