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I downloaded the Debian live standard (command line flavour, without X and any window managers) CD image, then booted into the live disk. With my first Arch Linux reflex I typed loadkeys dvorak (hand-picking on my blank key-cap keyboard while peeking at the QWERTY US layout on my laptop). No avail, I got an error saying cannot open file dvorak. A simple googling brought up loads of irrelevant links. /usr/share/keymaps is empty. This other question mentions dpkg-reconfigure but it is not even on the path of the live boot, at least no such command is recognized. Even if it was available, I would still consider it a highly unpleasant experience to type anything more than a few characters to get to my preferred keyboard layout. I mean to set up the internet connection, type WiFi password, configure proxy, add package sources, install packages, and then load the keymaps!? The very first thing I want when booting into a live OS (rescue disk!!) is to get the keyboard right.

Is this just me and this is really such an awkward, rarely used feature for Debian? ...or I missed something blatantly obvious?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I ran into the same Problem. Here is how i solved it:

# become root
sudo su

# configure keyboard
dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

# restart keyboard setup
/etc/init.d/keyboard-setup restart

It's a mayor PITA typing this in a keyboard layout you aren't used to but AFAIK there is no simpler solution.

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Thanks for the answer. I worked through it myself too somehow. I remember using dpkg-reconfigure as well, but not the restart bit. It is definitely a Mayor P.I.T.A. In almost all other distros I could use loadkeys dvorak. I will mark this as the answer after testing it. – Daniel Dinnyes Jan 14 '14 at 12:35

I don't know if there's some way to automate it but these commands should work:

setxkbmap us dvorak


setxkbmap gb -variant dvorak

or different...?

Note that if you had some custom keys set with xmodmap they will be overwritten, therefore if you need them, execute xmodmap after setxkbmap.

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No X, sorry. (edited the question to add some emphasis on it) – Daniel Dinnyes Jun 10 '13 at 11:40

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