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Umlauts + Linux

Guten tag! Any other Linux users out there using DUO? If so, how do you get by with ä, ë, ü (or other accented characters)? I am used to using ALT keys in Windows, but never found a decent alternative for Linux that doesn't involve fiddling with the keyboard layout (I'm a serial distro-hopper), and I'm not a fan of switching between keyboard and mouse. I actually have stickers on my keyboard and switch languages with a status-bar app thingy (Xfce, but I think it's common to most DEs & distros). So...just curious to know how other Linux people get by with this, and any hints on better ways to work would be awesome!

October 2, 2013



If you type Ctrl+Shift+U, then release the U, you can type the unicode code for the character you want similarly to how you would use alt codes.

So for example, for ñ, hold Ctrl+Shift+U, release U and type 00f1 and the ñ will replace u00F1.

Granted, you have to memorize the unicode for it to be efficient, but its handy when you're using the same symbols over and over: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unicode_characters


I switch to a french (canadian) keyboard when i'm typing on my phone or computer (which runs Mint). The difficulty with the computer's keyboard is the keys still look like a US-english one. :P

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Indeed, switching layouts is a good way to practise your touch typing :). There's an easy way to avoid having the wrong symbols on the keys -- buy one of these: http://www.daskeyboard.com/product/model-s-ultimate/


HAHA! Wish I was awesome enough to be able to handle one of those beasts...I went in the other direction and bought a pack of German-layout stickers off Evilbay for $1!


haha! That would be great. I learned dvorak by physically moving the keys on my netbook, but that's not practical to do every day. If i could afford it, i'd buy an Optimus keyboard of some kind.


US international with deadkeys. I never need to switch layouts to type in other Latin alphabet languages.

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Compose keys are one option -- I prefer to actually switch to a German keyboard layout for typing German (with a key shortcut for quickly toggling between English and German layouts). The learning curve's maybe a bit longer this way, but you can type a lot faster once you've got the hang of it, compared to using composing characters: ä, ö, ü, and ß are just one keystroke each. Can't help directly with xfce since I use Unity, but this looks helpful: http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/panel-plugins/xfce4-xkb-plugin


Excellent plugin, gnome and kde can do that through the keyboard settings. I don't know which distro you're using but for fedora you can use : sudo yum install xfce4-xkb-plugin

Or whatever the equivalent is in your favorite distro.

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In Ubuntu the package has the same name -- if you type xfce4-xkb-plugin into the software centre search box it will come up ready for install.


Thanks for the advice. I think xfce-xkb is included standard in the most recent Xfce (or maybe in the near-mandatory xfce-goodies package), this is what I use, but I think I've just been lazy in learning where everything goes on a German keyboard. Time to learn, I'll be moving there in December and will have no more excuses!


I'm using Ubuntu, and my default keyboard setup (Norwegian Dvorak) has all the diacritics I need, some of them in combination with AltGr or Shift. I'm certain this applies to the usual Qwerty layout as well :)


I do the same thing that I do with Windows: use the US International Keyboard (with dead keys). The layout is slightly different for a handful of keys, but is mostly the same. To type an umlaut, you type a double quote (") followed by the letter (e.g. "u results in ü). At first I switched back and forth between the English (US) keyboard and the US International, but I've gotten so used to it that I no longer bother and use the International keyboard as my default.

I'm not a distro hopper myself, but I'm thinking of making a change lately. I've only consistently used a handful of distributions over the last 20 years. For my own personal use, I've been running Ubuntu for 8 years. Before that it was Fedora from 2003 to 2005, Redhat from 1997 to 2003 and Slackware from December of 1993 until 1997. Four distros in 20 years, not counting brief flings with Yggdrasil early on, and SuSE and Debian in '97.


Wow, 20 years, you sir really love open-source or a challenge(suffering). I do like both, and have been using dual-boot Linux on and off for roughly 10 years I think. I recently decided to take the full plunge and use linux mainly. I've used Redhat and Fedora, and can't get used to the apt-get and other strange commands in ubuntu and other distros. Back in the old days linux was horrible, we had to compile everything, and deal with dependencies.

My main problem with it was mainly that I couldn't play games, and without internet it was(still is) a big headache to install anything. That plugin pont recommended made me taste a bit of the old times, I got the source and compiled it, and each time it asked for one more dependency until I found out it was available in the repository after I managed to find all dependencies.

Anyway, at least I learnt how to change keyboard layout in Linux.


The first time I installed Linux was on a 386sx20 with 2 MB of ram and a 40mb HDD. I had been reading about it on usenet, and was intrigued. When I had some time off over the Christmas holidays that year, I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. To prepare for the experiment I spent 2 weeks downloading the images for Slackware's 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disk installation, and writing the images to floppies - all via a 14.4 USR modem connection to a local BBS. Getting it to run was a challenge, but that's the sort of thing that I used to enjoy (now I just want to install the OS and get some work done haha). Luckily we have things much easier these days!

I still use Windows a lot as there's some things that I have to do on it (professionally and gaming). Even when I've booted into Windows, I usually have a VM with Linux running, though.


Ohh the good old floppy swapping days, I used to love that sound it made when it was damaged. I used to walk around with big stacks.One bad disk in that batch and the whole operation needed to be scrapped. Another special sound came from the modem when connecting. At least you could hear trouble from afar.

Professionally really? Aside from specific M$ Programs (M$ project), and software development (M$ Vb, asp.net, and so on), and specialist software (Autocad) I don't really see much need for it these days. If Microsoft worked on making their Office documents open and 100% compatible with other open-source productivity software I'd never really need it again, and soon all steam games will be available in Linux (via Steam Consoles).

One thing I'd love for these damned linux developers to do is make GUI tools for configuring the damn OS. We can criticize Microsoft all we want, but either Bill Gates or someone in his team really understood (from windows 3.1) how much users hate configuring stuff and how much they like pretty stuff. A friend of mine recently looked at Libreoffice and said "damn this is one ugly interface". Just setting up this alternative keyboard for umlauts should have been easy, but I had to jump through so many hoops, and I'm sure in some other distro, you probably have to edit a file somewhere.


What I do in my keyboard is to use dead keys: I’m using International Qwerty (“setxkbmap us_intl -option compose:menu”: a Compose key is always useful ☺) and it’s pretty good. To type “ü”, I have to type “"” followed by “u”. The counterpart is that I have to type “AltGr” + “"” to type “"”, but as the character “"” has nothing to do in English, French, German or any language I know, that’s fine with me ☺

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