Ubuntu – How to set Xmodmap on login


As my keyboard layout doesn't suit me, I run xmodmap on login. The script is named .profile and it runs OK, but it breaks the Unity interface.

I want to know where to put the xmodmap line so that it executes on my login and doesn't break anything.

I have already tried putting it in the .bash_login and .bash_profile files, without success (xmodmap doesn't set my keyboard).

What are my options?

Best Answer

The correct place to put xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap (so that your changes are read at startup) is in ~/.xinitrc (see explanation below), although you could alternately place the xmodmap command as a startup item (/usr/bin/xmodmap /home/user/.Xmodmap). I can say that for 12.04 (and presumably 12.10) that these two alternatives definitely do work, as either way they are read after you log in with lightdm. (I changed Return to Right Shift, and the change only took effect after entering my password and logging in).

Please note: if you are on Xfce, it is noted on the official Xfce FAQ that you may have to create a startup item instead of using ~/.xinitrc, and that you might have to delay the execution so the xmodmap changes are not overwritten by setxkbmap. You can use a delay to achieve this in your startup entry:

/bin/bash -c "sleep 20; /usr/bin/xmodmap /home/$USER/.Xmodmap"

(For the startup entry it is necessary to specify absolute paths)

Each time setxkbmap is run to change keyboard layout, you will have to run xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap again in the terminal.

Creating ~/.xinitrc

Create a file in your home folder called .xinitrc with

touch .xinitrc

and place in it:

xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap

Your Xmodmap file should not have entries in the xmodmap -e " " style as that is used in the terminal for temporarily setting the values. It must have entries in this format:

keycode 65 = Tab
keycode 23 = Space

It is often confusing which of the various X files (such as .xprofile, .xinitrc, etc) are read at startup, but .xinitrc does seem to be still read under 12.04, whereas .Xmodmap or .xinputrc are not read by themselves.