How did I force us_intl to behave

Many people believe that I hate Linux, or that I think it is bad… That’s not true. Some of my friends might remember my first years in my University where I got exposed to Linux via a nice SunRay light terminal computer room. The ambiance there was pretty nice, and there was always a terminal available. Nowadays, Computer Science students only have access to one computer room that’s available once each our director decides to open the door, making the need for a laptop computer a must when paying the University bill.

I like Linux, truly, but it doesn’t replaces Windows fully (for many reasons, one mainly because I like to play games) because of a small feature Windows has named “US – International keyboard layout”. Why is that? Well, my official (unofficial) job title is (Java) software developer, so a keyboard in English is mandatory (all because those pesky braces {} and brackets []). However, my mother language is Spanish, so I need to have access to the ability to properly accentuate words (the acute accents, and the n with a tilde [ñ]). Other than that, there’s a lot of information, forums and personal stuff that’s in Spanish and/or English. I need to swap between those languages in less than a second. That’s where the US – International keyboard layout goes in. This keyboard layout is the same as english, but with the ability to write those acute accents, and if I add the Right Alt key (named AltGr) I can write lots of other symbols like ß, ÷… In a nutshell, it is really useful.

Isn't it beautiful?

Wait a minute, Tama, you could say. But that keyboard layout exists for Linux too! Yep, I know it exists, but instead of being “United States – international” it is “United States – It-works-in-Spanish-but-not-in-English-which-is-the-official-language-in-USA”!

My friend labadf could perfectly be the major witness in my struggle with Linux. The act of writing something as simple as “it’s” was an ordeal. In Windows with my physical Spanish keyboard layout I only need to type “it (acute accent) s”, and there I go. In Linux if I wrote that I would get an s with an acute accent on top, which doesn’t belongs to Spanish at all. If I wanted to write “haven’t” in Windows it was direct. In Linux it would refuse to write that apostrophe and the letter t. I had to press the space bar to write the apostrophe, and then the t key, which was more like a test on negative enforcement about my years-long muscular memory of working in Windows with “US – International”. I don’t even want to remember about typing something as easy as “I’ll”. The accents for Spanish worked perfectly. The problem was English.

My research sent me to various places. The choices were as frugal as modifying the X11 source code, copying an environment variable, creating a file in home directory, modifying the keymap… With labadf I tested almost everything until I gave up. I erased my Linux partition to make space for anime, and only until yesterday I installed it again.

I decided to redo everything. I installed Crunchbang Linux (a topic for a next post), I installed everything basic (and advanced too), until I had to decide which keyboard layout to install. I remembered my previous deception.

This time I decided to test it all. And the result of my testing was… Win US Intl for Linux.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *