Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

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Jejj
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Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

Post by Jejj » Sun May 29, 2016 8:27 pm

Hello. I downloaded FreeOffice 2016 for Linux, intending to use it with Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17.03. Someone on a different board, in a discussion of different formats -- .odt, docx, .doc -- mentioned that he uses SoftMaker software when writing and editing in German. And that is how I found out about SoftMaker.

I have not been able to find a straightforward way of typing the German Sondercharakter, the umlauted vowels and the eszett. And when I set German as the language in FreeOffice, the functioning keyboard is nonetheless the standard English QWERTY keyboard (i.e., the 'y' and 'z' are not reversed, as in the standard German keyboard). And I downloaded it twice -- specifying German for the download to the Mint box and English for the Ubuntu box. Now I understand that I am trying out the free version, which would not have all of the features of the paid version. But I find it odd that a German software company would produce a product that is inconvenient for users in its major market, which is still Germany. So I assume I am missing something. Is there a workaround? Thank you.

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Re: Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

Post by sven-l » Mon May 30, 2016 10:59 am

It seems the english keyboard layout is still active for your system. Try it with other programs like LibreOffice, there you should have the same QWERTY layout. Please check your regional settings in Linux again. TextMaker uses the system keyboard layout.
Sven Leßmann
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Michael Uplawski
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Re: Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

Post by Michael Uplawski » Mon May 30, 2016 8:59 pm

Sven is telling you all the facts.

If you want a quick way to switch keyboards, other than by use of the tools that are installed on your specific Linux-system or GUI-environment, have a look at xmodmap. This has the advantage that it will work elsewhere, too, with other distributions and other desktop-environments.
user@machine:~$ man xmodmap
XMODMAP(1) General Commands Manual XMODMAP(1)

NAME
xmodmap - utility for modifying keymaps and pointer button mappings in X

SYNOPSIS
xmodmap [-options ...] [filename]

DESCRIPTION
The xmodmap program is used to edit and display the keyboard modifier map and keymap table that are used by client applications to convert event keycodes into
keysyms. It is usually run from the user's session startup script to configure the keyboard according to personal tastes.

(...)
People should go where they are not supposed to go, say what they are not supposed to say and stay, when they are told to leave.” (Howard Zinn)

Jejj
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Re: Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

Post by Jejj » Tue May 31, 2016 1:34 pm

Thank you for your response. Searching around, I think I´ve found another way of switching keyboards -- using setxkbmap.

setxkbmap -layout de

changed my keyboard to German. Typing in FreeOffice 2016 then gives all of the German special characters, including the ß, that I had the most trouble inserting into FreeOffice documents.

setxkbmap -layout us

switched it back to U.S. English

I´m in Düsseldorf at present. When I get back home I´ll try it out on my Mint box. I´m sure it will work on it as well.

Thank you again.

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Michael Uplawski
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Re: Special characters in German; alternate keyboards

Post by Michael Uplawski » Tue May 31, 2016 6:55 pm

Great solution!
Jejj wrote:Thank you for your response. Searching around, I think I´ve found another way of switching keyboards -- using setxkbmap.
Yes. I always forget about “the other tool”, because I am just accustomed to xmodmap ~/.xmodmap."$code" (code being de, fr or en). The extra-convenience of “xmodmap” is that I have defined the french ligature œ also for the German keyboard. Likewise you could define the German “Umlauts” for an English keyboard and activate them with an adapted file xmodmap.en.

But that can be tricky. Switching keymaps appears to always stress my system for a little while.

Edit: From an exchange on linuxquestions.org I learned that with xmodmap it is sufficient to provide a key-map that contains only those symbols that you want to add or key-mappings that you want to change. In my case, the file is reduced to only two lines (for the french ligature and a greek omega). This way, calling xmodmap with the file as argument works like a charm, immediately and without stressing the CPU at all.
People should go where they are not supposed to go, say what they are not supposed to say and stay, when they are told to leave.” (Howard Zinn)

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