7.5. Region specific settings

7.5.1. Keyboard setup

Setting the keyboard layout is done using the loadkeys command for text consoles. Use your local X configuration tool or edit the Keyboard section in XF86Config manually to configure the layout for graphical mode. The XkbdLayout is the one you want to set:

    XkbLayout       "us"

This is the default. Change it to your local settings by replacing the quoted value with any of the names listed in the subdirectories of /lib/kbd/keymaps/, leaving out the .map.gz extention. If you can't find the keymaps, try displaying their location on your system issuing the command

locate .map.gz

It is possible to combine layout settings, like in this example:

Xkblayout      "us,ru"

Make a backup of the /etc/X11/XF86Config file before editing it! You will need to use the root account to do this.

Log out and reconnect in order to reload X settings.

The Gnome Keyboard Applet enables real-time switching between layouts; no special pemissions are needed for using this program. KDE has a similar tool for switching between keyboard layouts.

7.5.2. Fonts

Use the setfont tool to load fonts in text mode. Most systems come with a standard inputrc file which enables combining of characters, such as the French "" (meta characters). The system admin should then add the line

export INPUTRC="/etc/inputrc"

to the /etc/bashrc file.

7.5.3. Time zone

Setting time information is usually done at installation time. After that, it can be kept up to date using an NTP (Network Time Protocol) client. Most Linux systems run ntpd by default:

debby:~> ps -ef | grep ntpd
ntp      24678     1  0  2002 ?        00:00:33 ntpd -U ntp

See your system manual and the documentation that comes with the NTP package. Most desktop managers include tools to set the system time, providing that you have access to the system administrator's account.

7.5.4. Language

If you'd rather get your messages from the system in Dutch or French, you may want to set the LANG and LANGUAGE environment variables, thus enabling locale support for the desired language and eventually the fonts related to character conventions in that language.

With most graphical login systems, such as gdm or kdm, you have the possibility to configure these language settings before logging in.

Note that on most systems, the default tends to be en_US.UTF-8 these days. This is not a problem, because systems where this is the default, will also come with all the programs supporting this encoding. Thus, vi can edit all the files on your system, cat won't behave strange and so on.

Trouble starts when you connect to an older system not supporting this font encoding, or when you open a UTF-8 encoded file on a system supporting only 1-byte character fonts. The recode utility might come in handy to convert files from one character set to another. Read the man pages for an overview of features and usage. Another solution might be to temporarily work with another encoding definition, by setting the LANG environment variable:

debby:~> acroread /var/tmp/51434s.pdf
Warning: charset "UTF-8" not supported, using "ISO8859-1".

debby:~> set | grep UTF

debby:~> export LANG=en_US

debby:~> acroread /var/tmp/51434s.pdf
<--new window opens-->

7.5.5. Specific information for Belgium

The Belgian HOWTO gives more detailed information on configuring your machine for Flanders, la Wallonie and the Oostkantons, on how to get on the Internet in Belgium and contains a list of Belgian providers of Linux related commercial and free services.

The Francophones HOWTO discusses the available support for the French language in-depth.

7.5.6. Other countries

The list of HOWTOs contains references to Belarusian, Chinese, Esperanto, Finnish, Hebrew, Hellenic, Latvian, Polish, Portugese, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish localization instructions.