so, I have a base debian install and installed Xorg and awesome on it.

I've been trying to get my keyboard (macbook 2,1) to work properly for a couple of days now. Initially, I had used dpkg-reconfigure to change my keyboard to the qwertz/macbook/de layout. That had worked flawlessly, aside from caveats noted below.

recently, when I rebooted, I discovered that my .Xmodmap file had stopped being read, and also my keyboard layout had become en-US

I can set the keyboard layout to german with setxbmap de, and everything will work, (aside from caveats below). But that is where the issue starts.

macs (and a lot of european keyboards) use a left alt (or alt-gr) as level3 modifier for certain characters. e.g. on OSX leftalt + l is @. I am unable to replicate any such behavior in linux. With dpkg-reconfigure I do have the opportunity to decide which key to use as alt-gr, but selecting left alt ruins the entire layout, printing random chars like umlaut y, as opposed mapping level3 to right super, which actually does work.

So I guess my question is: how can I make Xorg not completely shit itself when I ask it to use left alt as a level3 modifier key?

here's some command output:

notafile@notamac ~> localectl
System Locale: LANG=en_US.UTF-8
VC Keymap: n/a
X11 Layout: de
X11 Model: macbook79
X11 Variant: mac
X11 Options: lv3:rwin_switch

feel free to comment any other files/commands I should give you the output of


I run gnome-shell version 3.14.2, and I was able to set Left Alt as a level 3 modifier by going to Settings -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Typing and setting Alternative Characters Key to Left Alt.

  • This does work, however I was at the time on a base debian install, which of course did not have such features – Azsgy Jan 17 '15 at 16:49

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