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theYinYeti

Need advice about French keyboard layout [solved]

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My son's using a Linux laptop since september at school. He needs it despite being only 6, because he has problems with writing (he's writing too big) because of difficulties with fine motion, because of a lack in "stability" (équilibre), because of a lack of strength in his back...

 

A "fine motion specialist" (ergothérapeute) is working with him at school, and she said to me: there is a problem with the laptop because the caps-lock key doesn't enable numbers, or dot, question-mark, and so on, for that matter.

 

The French keyboard's first and last rows look like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 ° +
& é " ' ( - è _ ç à ) =

> W X C V B N ? . / §
< w x c v b n ,; : !

 

This specialist obviously is used to Windows, where caps-lock is NOT actually "Capitals-lock" but rather "Shift-lock", as in old type-writers. In Linux though, caps-lock is only for letters.

 

I'd like to know how the "caps-lock" key works with a French Macintosh.

 

I don't know how I should handle the matter. Let's suppose that macintosh works like Linux, that would make 2 OS out of 3 with this system (not a majority on the market however). On the other hand, given his difficulties, typing on 1 key at a time is easier than 2 keys (shift + number, or shift + dot); so I'm inclined to launch a xmodmap on login to make the keyboard work like it does in Windows (provided it IS possible; I have not checked), but then he would have to adapt when working with other computers at home (100% Linux).

 

What would you advise me?

 

Yves.

Edited by theYinYeti

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I don't know how the Caps lock works in French versions of Windows, but in English versions it's always worked for me the same as Linux, ie the Caps lock gives capital letters but doesn't apply to non-letter keys. It's not the same as holding down the shift key.

 

I guess you've already seen Wikipedia's entry on the subject: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY

 

The French keyboard's first and last rows look like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 ° +
& é " ' ( - è _ ç à ) =

> W X C V B N ? . / §
< w x c v b n ,; : !

I know all countries' layouts are different and all have oddities, but to require shift to type the numbers seems odd to me. And to require shift for an often-used full stop (.) but not for a seldom-used exclamation mark (!).

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Spot on, neddie. Unfortunately, you're right, and I am too... That's the way it is with French keyboards. You have to use the shift key for numbers, unless (in Windows) you keep the caps-lock key on while you need them. That may be one reason why all French people that I know use the numbers on the right of the keyboard instead of those on the top, and many do the same for the dot.

 

Yves.

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Go to an Apple store and find out..?

 

I guess you may have to hack up the good old xmodmap for your son, or he'll have a harder time having to press 2 keys at once.

 

Or you might get him a us keyboard - ah, no good without accents keys and having to use deadkeys for sure...

 

To mess up an old fable about the querty keyboard, seems like the french azerty keyboard was really intended to slow people down.

 

It's nice to have a keypad and use it, but how do you deal with laptops that don't have it?

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Go to an Apple store and find out..?
Or just read the Wikipedia link above. In particular the sections "Disposition du clavier français sous Macintosh" and "Disposition du clavier français sous Macintosh (avec la touche "majuscule")".

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I finally understood how to read those two parts you mention, neddie. It seems the Macintosh does like Windows does. That and the fact that it would be easier for my son made me decide that's how I want things to be. Linux is the outsider here; I wonder why!

On the even darker side (there's no bright side it seems), I looked at the xmodmap man page and did some tests: there's no way to control what caps-lock does using xmodmap. :-(

 

Do you know of any way to reconfigure the caps-lock key à-la-xmodmap so that it shifts all the keys?

 

Yves.

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Have you thought about sticky keys for him

 

http://www.faqs.org/docs/Linux-HOWTO/Keybo...sole-HOWTO.html

 

XFree86 supports an accessibility option which allows disabled users to type single-handed. With sticky keys enabled, the user can hit a modifier key (ctrl, alt, shift) followed by another key, rather than having to hold the modifier key while hitting the letter.

To enable sticky keys, first make sure the xkb extension is enabled (this is done during initial X server configuration and is usually enabled by default). Next, run the X server with the +accessx option. If you use startx, either run startx -- +accessx or add +accessx to the serverargs line in the startx script. If you use xdm, add +accessx to the appropriate server line in /etc/X11/xdm/Xservers.

It is also possible to enable X accessibility with some end-user utilities with a running X server.

Once X accessibility is enabled, press the shift key five times in a row to enable sticky keys. To disable sticky keys, either press the shift key five times again, or press a key while holding a modifier key.

XFree86 also supports Slow Keys, Repeat Keys, Bounce Keys and an audible bell. xkbcomp can be used to generate a .xkm file to enable these. The appropriate xkbcomp commands are listed in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xkb/compat/accessx.

 

This will give him the press shift then the next key.

 

also take a look at

http://www.linux.com/articles/118179

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Thank you for this information, michaelcole :)

 

I'll have a look.

Meanwhile, I found that Xkb can be configured to shift the whole keyboard instead of just letters, using an "Option". I've made no attempt yet, but it should work.

 

I may just discuss the whole matter with the specialist (ergothérapeute), and see if she wants sticky keys or a Windows-like shift-all-keyboard caps-lock key...

 

Yves.

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I finally understood how to read those two parts you mention, neddie. It seems the Macintosh does like Windows does. That and the fact that it would be easier for my son made me decide that's how I want things to be. Linux is the outsider here; I wonder why!

On the even darker side (there's no bright side it seems), I looked at the xmodmap man page and did some tests: there's no way to control what caps-lock does using xmodmap. :-(

 

Do you know of any way to reconfigure the caps-lock key à-la-xmodmap so that it shifts all the keys?

 

Yves.

I tested it on a mac with a french/belgian azerty keyboard and caps-lock behaved like caps-lock not shift-lock (unlike windows), this is the behaviour I would have expected in XP with a qwerty lay-out too...

 

on a side note I often wonder if because of those keyboards the flemish are literally so little to the point, unlike the dutch....

Edited by ffi

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For those interested:

//Initial content:
//- setxkbmap -print >$HOME/{this file}
//Sources of modifications:
//- http://wiki.mandriva.com/fr/Personnaliser_le_clavier
//- http://listserv.bat.ru/xkb/Message/154.html
//Activate with:
//- xkbcomp -w 0 -R/usr/share/X11/xkb/ $HOME/{this file} $DISPLAY

default xkb_keymap "xkb-shift" {
xkb_keycodes  { include "xfree86+aliases(azerty)"	};
xkb_types	 { include "complete"	};
xkb_compat	{ include "complete"
		indicator "Caps Lock" {
			whichModState= Locked;
			modifiers= Shift;
		};
};
xkb_symbols   { include "pc(pc105)+fr+compose(rwin)+capslock(shiftlock)"	};
xkb_geometry  {	include "pc(pc105)"	};
};

It works great! Xkb is cool and gave me new ideas :)

 

Yves.

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