Other than English keyboard layout?

Do you have an English keyboard? Well, you can probably skip this post, unless you are doing very international stuff.

The following are my experiences with various flavors of Ubuntu.

Normally the keyboard is selected during the installation. However, if you use LiveCDs, VMs, terminal servers (LTSP) it happens sometimes that the target machine assumes an English keyboard and it gets difficult to enter – / + ? and similar punctuation.

Here is how you change the layout.

1. Inside X-Windows things are easy. The command

setxkbmap layout

is all you need. I don’t remember where the layout parameter is defined, but for my Finnish keyboard it is “fi”. I guess Google is your friend when you can’t guess your own layout’s code.

2. On the console it’s not that easy.

The command is

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

That’s the easy part. It will walk you through many questions, I didn’t find all of them easy to answer.

Have a look at file /etc/default/console-setup to see your current settings and maybe even take a backup before running the command.

The process is not that fast, so if you only have to enter a couple of characters you might be faster to type blindly…

I guess internally reconfiguring runs the command setupcon. It has options to set only keyboad layout and skip the fonts (or vice versa). I have not tried it at all, not sure whether theres is any difference compared to invoking dpkg-reconfigure

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Another nice Linux blog


has nice tricks for technical user.

Unfortunately a bit silent recently, but nice posts in the past, which are still interesting to read.

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udisks tells everything about disks

If you wonder any kind of technical detail of you disk drives (magnetical, optical or also USB mass storage) in Linux udisk is your friend.

The command

udisks --dump

tells a lot.

Technically udisks is not Linux (as in kernel), but freedesktop. Freedesktop is the common parent for the various desktops in the Linux world, like e.g. GNOME, KDE, xfce, and LXDE (the newcomer in form of Lubuntu).

udisks is pretty new. It’s not in Ubuntu Karmic, but has been introduced in Ubuntu Lucid. It’s not in openSUSE 11.2. I guess it has been developed to replace hal’s functionality as far as disks are concerned.

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Watching how upstart works

Ubuntu has been using upstart for a while. The idea of upstart is to replace the old SYSV init process and the related scripts in /etc/init.d/.  Basic info can be found at http://upstart.ubuntu.com/getting-started.html.

However, if you have a running system (like for myself Kubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS) and look into /var/log/syslog you will not see what upstart has done or is doing.

Luckily your curiousity can be satisfied easily:

  1. During boot press and hold down the Shift key to get to the grub2 menu (if necessary). (If you have a system that has been upgraded from earlier versions it might still use grub. I believe the key used to be ESC.)
  2. Select your normal entry (typically the first one) and press “e” for edit
  3. Append the following text at the end of the exisiting linux command line (leave 1 space): init=/sbin/init --verbose
  4. Press Ctrl-X to boot
  5. Examine /var/log/syslog. Search for init: to find lines written by upstart.

Next time you boot the logging will be off again. Easy, isn’t it?

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