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7.6. Configuring the Linux Console

This section discusses how to configure the console initscript that sets up the keyboard map and the console font. If non-ASCII characters (British pound and Euro character are examples of non-ASCII characters) will not be used and the keyboard is a U.S. one, skip this section. Without the configuration file, the console initscript will do nothing.

The console script uses the /etc/sysconfig/console as a configuration file. Decide which keymap and screen font will be used. The language-specific HOWTO can help with this. A pre-made /etc/sysconfig/console file with known settings for several countries was installed with the LFS-Bootscripts package, so the relevant section can be uncommented if the country is supported. If still in doubt, look in the /usr/share/kbd directory for valid keymaps and screen fonts. Read the loadkeys and setfont manual pages and determine the correct arguments for these programs. Once decided, create the configuration file with the following command:

cat >/etc/sysconfig/console <<"EOF"
KEYMAP="[arguments for loadkeys]"
FONT="[arguments for setfont]"

For example, for Spanish users who also want to use the Euro character (accessible by pressing AltGr+E), the following settings are correct:

cat >/etc/sysconfig/console <<"EOF"
KEYMAP="es euro2"
FONT="lat9-16 -u iso01"


The FONT line above is correct only for the ISO 8859-15 character set. If using ISO 8859-1 and, therefore, a pound sign instead of Euro, the correct FONT line would be:


If the KEYMAP or FONT variable is not set, the console initscript will not run the corresponding program.

In some keymaps, the Backspace and Delete keys send characters different from ones in the default keymap built into the kernel. This confuses some applications. For example, Emacs displays its help (instead of erasing the character before the cursor) when Backspace is pressed. To check if the keymap in use is effected (this works only for i386 keymaps):

zgrep '\W14\W' [/path/to/your/keymap]

If the keycode 14 is Backspace instead of Delete, create the following keymap snippet to fix this issue:

mkdir -p /etc/kbd && cat > /etc/kbd/bs-sends-del <<"EOF"
                  keycode  14 = Delete Delete Delete Delete
              alt keycode  14 = Meta_Delete
        altgr alt keycode  14 = Meta_Delete
                  keycode 111 = Remove
    altgr control keycode 111 = Boot
      control alt keycode 111 = Boot
altgr control alt keycode 111 = Boot

Tell the console script to load this snippet after the main keymap:

cat >>/etc/sysconfig/console <<"EOF"

To compile the keymap directly into the kernel instead of setting it every time from the console bootscript, follow the instructions given in Section 8.3, “Linux-” Doing this ensures that the keyboard will always work as expected, even when booting into maintenance mode (by passing init=/bin/sh to the kernel), because the console bootscript will not be run in that situation. Additionally, the kernel will not set the screen font automatically. This should not pose many problems because ASCII characters will be handled correctly, and it is unlikely that a user would need to rely on non-ASCII characters while in maintenance mode.

Since the kernel will set up the keymap, it is possible to omit the KEYMAP variable from the /etc/sysconfig/console configuration file. It can also be left in place, if desired, without consequence. Keeping it could be beneficial if running several different kernels where it is difficult to ensure that the keymap is compiled into every one of them.