I am looking for a way to define an Emacs-style keys sequence as a keyboard shortcut in Linux - Specifically, in Gnome, but more general solutions are also acceptable.

For example, I would like a sequence like "Alt-w t" (that is, first press Alt-w and then t) to open a terminal, "Alt-w c" to close a window, and so on.

The rationale behind this question is twofold:

  1. Make more use of desktop-wide keyboard shortcuts
  2. Make an old keyboard, that has no Win key, usable with desktop-wide keyboard shortcuts, without causing too many collisions with application - Specifically with Emacs.


3 Answers 3


xpybind is for binding X commands to Emacs style key sequences.


Nothing to do with Gnome, but have you ever considered Ratpoison? With that you'll make a very great keyboard use!

  • you are serious to suggest a tiling windowmanager to the op's question? :)
    – akira
    May 3, 2010 at 10:50
  • Yes, also because he mentioned Emacs and Ratpoison is far from being a tiling wm: it's more a buffer window manager, like screen, and has some behaviour comparable to emacs. I switched from gnome to ratpoison on my laptop, hence the suggestion!
    – dag729
    May 3, 2010 at 11:02
  • I know of lightweight WM such as Ratpoison et al. Unfortunately I don't have much time right now to arrange my desktop from scratch. I was hoping for a more mainstream solution, or, alt., something that works directly on the X server. May 3, 2010 at 11:11
  • Fair enough but, if you like to give it a go, I can address you to dotfiles.org, where you'll find some useful and ready to use .ratpoisonrc. Just add .ratpoisonrc after dotfiles.org/; if you want to find other dotfiles use the same pattern, that is appending a .something after dotfiles.org/
    – dag729
    May 3, 2010 at 12:46

with openbox and obkeys you can do that. LUbuntu for example uses openboy, but you can install it yourself. Howevery its a rather heavy modification of your system as



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