Ubuntu – An alternative to the Super key on an old keyboard


I've got a classic M-series IBM keyboard that I want to put to a use. However, it does not have a Windows (a.k.a Super) key, that I use for many windows-manager-related shortcuts. On top of it, I use Emacs, so many Alt or Ctrl shortcuts are already taken. I also can't use Caps Lock as a modifier, since that it is taken for switching between languages.

What keyboard shortcuts would you recommend me for the windows manager (Gnome w. Emerald), taking into account these limitations (no Super key, can't remap Caps, and must not collide with frequent Emacs shortcuts)?

Best Answer

Do you already use right Alt?

You could map it to the Windows key in Gnome settings:

  • System->Preferences->Keyboard
  • Layouts
  • Options...
  • Alt/Win key behavior
  • Left Alt is swapped with Left Win

Or you could map Caps Lock to the Windows key, and choose another shortcut for changing languages.

In the same control panel:

  • CapsLock key behaviour

  • Make CapsLock an additional Super

    (or Make CapsLock an additional Hyper)

and then:

  • Key(s) to change layout
  • too many options to mention

Common choices include:

  • Left Alt + Left Shift
  • Left Ctrl + Left Shift
  • Left Ctrl + Right Ctrl

but being an Emacs user, I would suggest the Both Ctrl keys together option.

If those options are insufficient, you will need to use xmodmap.

You could map Right Control to Windows at the shell like this:

xmodmap -e 'remove control = Control_R'
xmodmap -e 'add Mod4 = Control_R'

Depending on your system, you can probably also put the equivalent settings in .Xmodmap, e.g.


remove control = Control_R'
add Mod4 = Control_R'

If you'd rather use xmodmap than the Gnome control panel, you can change Control_R to something else, for instance right Alt is either Alt_R or ISO_Level3_Shift, depending on your keyboard settings, e.g.

xmodmap -e 'remove ISO_Level3_Shift = Mod5'
xmodmap -e 'add Mod4 = ISO_Level3_Shift'

works for me.