LOADKEYS(1) General Commands Manual LOADKEYS(1)
loadkeys - load keyboard translation tables
loadkeys [ -a --ascii ] [ [ -b --bkeymap ] [ -c --clearcompose ] [ -C
'<FILE>' | --console=<FILE> ] [ -d --default ] [ -h --help ] [ -m
--mktable ] [ -p --parse ] [ -q --quiet ] [ -s --clearstrings ] [ -u
--unicode ] [ -v --verbose ] [ -V --version ] [ filename... ]
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.
RESET TO DEFAULT
If the -d (or --default ) option is given, loadkeys loads a default
keymap, probably the file defkeymap.map 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 `load-
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 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 cur-
rent content of this table can be see using `dumpkeys --compose-only'.
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 key-
board) 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.
CREATE KERNEL SOURCE TABLE
If the -m (or --mktable ) option is given loadkeys prints to the stan-
dard 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).
CREATE BINARY KEYMAP
If the -b (or --bkeymap ) option is given loadkeys prints to the stan-
dard output a file that may be used as a binary keymap as expected by
Busybox loadkmap command (and does not modify the current keymap).
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.
Force conversion to ASCII.
loadkeys prints its version number and a short usage message to
the programs standard error output and exits.
loadkeys searchs and parses keymap without action.
loadkeys suppresses all normal output.
loadkeys prints version number and exits.
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 con-
soles, so any changes to the keyboard bindings affect all the virtual
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.
default directory for keymaps
default kernel keymap
6 Feb 1994 LOADKEYS(1)