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A sane way to use Qwerty-US keyboards with non-English languages.


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A sane way to use Qwerty-US keyboards with non-English languages.

One Dead Key (1dk) To Rule Them All

Here is a collection of Qwerty keyboard layouts where the quote sign (') is turned into a language-specific dead key. This is comparable to qwerty-intl but only one key is modified, and this key is easy enough to reach to be usable for a non-English language on a daily basis.

Users looking for an increased typing comfort should have a look at the qwerty42 layouts — the learning curve is a bit steeper but totally worth it. Probably the best qwerty variant for developers. :-)

Build a Keyboard Layout

The latest version of kalamine is required:

pip3 install kalamine

Building a keyboard layout with kalamine is straight-forward:

kalamine MyCustomLayout.yaml

All files are generated in the dist subdirectory:

  • *.klc files for Windows
  • *.keylayout files for MacOS X
  • *.xkb files for GNU/Linux

A Makefile is provided to build the whole layout collection with a single make.

Install a Keyboard Layout


The 1dk toolchain produces *.klc files for Windows.

The MS Keyboard Layout Creator is required to turn a *.klc file into a layout installer: run this installer and your layout will appear in the language bar.


The 1dk toolchain produces *.keylayout files for OSX.

Copy your *.keylayout file into ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts (for the current user only) or /Library/Keyboard Layouts (for all users), and restart your session. The keyboard layout will appear in your “Language and Text” preferences, “Input Methods” tab.


The 1dk toolchain produces *.xkb files for Linux.

On this platform, dead keys are handled by XCompose and their behavior cannot be defined in an xkb file; our workaround is to implement the 1dk as a dead AltGr key (ISO_Level3_Latch), and the AltGr key is implemented as an ISO_Level5_Switch key.

To activate an *.xkb keyboard layout on Linux:

xkbcomp -w10 layout.xkb $DISPLAY

To get back to the default US keyboard layout:

setxkbmap us


A sane way to use Qwerty-US keyboards with non-English languages.








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