I'm trying to configure a Debian Linux (ARMHF 3.8.13-bone20) on a BeagleBone Black to use German as the default language and keyboard layout, which does not work, and I can't see why. I'm talking about the console settings, not X or Gnome etc. Here are my settings and what I did so far:

dpkg-reconfigure locales

Here I chose de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8 and unselected en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8.

Output from locale:


Content of /etc/default/locale:


Content of /etc/default/keyboard:

# Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.

I ran setupcon after making these settings and it didn't change anything, the layout still was en_US.

After that, I ran

dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

and set German - no dead keys as keyboard layout. Still no change, neither at once nor after a reboot.

Next, I tried

dpkg-reconfigure console-data

Here I chose

Choose layout from entire list

and then

pc / quertz / German / Standard / latin1 - no dead keys

The output after that was:

Looking for keymap to install:

At this moment, the correct keyboard layout is present, but unfortunately things revert to the English (US) keyboard layout after reboot.

What can I do to permanently change the keyboard layout? As far as I can see the correct keymap must be present as it can get loaded, but only until the next reboot. What am I missing here?

Update: When connecting via SSH the German keymap gets loaded.

  • Hi, I've exact the same issues with my gnome installation. Are there some new information? – zzeroo Feb 26 '14 at 8:48
  • 2
    This question is from 2 years and 9 months ago and it is still happening to me in July 2017. Has anyone actually solved this? It is annoying that I keep getting set back to the gb keyboard. Not that big a deal since for me that means the " and @ get reversed. I can live with that. Going in through the GUI fixes it until the next (very rare) power recycle as I back up the SD card. I echo the clue in the update: This only happens to the one RPi where I have a keyboard and monitor. It never happens when I use RDP. I don't see an accepted answer so I guess we're left to just deal with it. – SDsolar Jul 7 '17 at 23:45
  • 1
    2020 and getting this only now. – RichieHH Nov 2 '20 at 20:53

You might try to add the boot parameters of debian-installer/keymap=de and keymap=de.

Also, the answer at the thread Keyboard layout HELP says :

  1. Go to the webmin and do this SYSTEM -> SOFTWARE PACKADGES -> UPGRADE ALL

  2. (I don't recall if the order was this) Go to the console and do the following:

    apt-get install console-data
    apt-get install console-setup
    apt-get install console-locales
    apt-get install keyboard-configuration

  3. Do the dpkg-reconfigure for each of the packets above. REBOOT.

So maybe your problem is that you haven't done all of them before rebooting.

  • This didn't work for me (on Ubuntu 12.04), I have to run dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration after every reboot. – Suzana May 21 '15 at 14:05
  • On Raspbian I just had to install console-data and then selected pc/quertz/German/Standard/latin1 and everything works. – ASA Jun 10 '15 at 21:07
  • 1
    does not work for me (debian stretch 9.1.0). – ribamar Feb 8 '18 at 14:12
  • You misspelled "packages". – Ikem Krueger Mar 27 '18 at 22:25
  • 1
    @IkemKrueger: This is in the original quote, 8 years ago. – harrymc Mar 28 '18 at 6:19

After dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration, you need to run

       setupcon - sets up the font and the keyboard on the console

       setupcon [OPTION]... [VARIANT]

       setupcon  is a program for fast and easy setup of the font and the key‐
       board on the console.  Most of the time  you  invoke  setupcon  without
       arguments.   The  keyboard configuration is specified in ~/.keyboard or
       /etc/default/keyboard.  The font configuration is specified in  ~/.con‐
       sole-setup or /etc/default/console-setup.  Consult keyboard(5) and con‐
       sole-setup(5) for instructions how to configure these two files.
  • 1
    Should be the accepted answer, simple and effective. – ryancey Sep 29 '17 at 13:30
  • 4
    does not work for me (debian stretch 9.1.0). – ribamar Feb 8 '18 at 14:03
  • Works on Debian 9.13 – Alex Feb 20 at 16:01

On Stretch you'll need console-setup (in addition to keyboard-configuration), which includes the necessary systemd-service keyboard-setup:

apt-get install keyboard-configuration console-setup
  • I think this one is the most general/useful answer... console-setup is the key – matpop Mar 17 at 9:41
dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
udevadm trigger --subsystem-match=input --action=change
  • 5
    While these commands look like they might achieve something that the asker wants, it would be good to add a brief description of why they would do so. – Mokubai Mar 11 '17 at 16:22
  • does not work for me (debian stretch 9.1.0). – ribamar Feb 8 '18 at 14:04
  • This doesnt work long term if it's not already working. the udevadm just triggers the config change without a reboot. – RichieHH Nov 2 '20 at 21:03

The solution for me was to comment out all the locale relevant variables at /etc/profile

#export LANG="de_DE.utf8"
#export LANGUAGE="de_DE.utf8"
#export LC_ALL="de_DE.utf8"

(I wanted to get rid off the German :))

and then set my locale as I wish within /etc/default/locale

The debian wiki page https://wiki.debian.org/Locale was the most helpfull document I found.

  • locale and keyboard layout are not one of the same. – RichieHH Nov 2 '20 at 21:27

To change the german keyboard in Kali Linux 2020.02 (Debian) do the following:

  1. dpkg-reconfigure locales

    Choose de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8 and unselect en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 (by pressing Space)

  2. dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

    Choose your keyboard hardware

  3. For Kali Linux 2020.2 (Debian) goto GUI

    Settings/Settings Editor

    To Channel Keyboard-layout

    Under Line XkbLayout String change the value to de (delete us)

This permanently changes the layout to the german keyboard.

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