Historical Document - Last Updated Thu Jan 30 10:56:01 2003

ISO-8859-1 compose keystrokes in Linux

I was trying to figure out how to write French on a "normal" (Microsoft US) keyboard in Linux, and in StarOffice 5.1 in Windows (and Linux). I found that there is a standard key compose table in X11 and all that it needs is to be activated by binding one of the keyboard keys to "Multi_key".
(On my system the table is in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/locale/iso8859-1/Compose)

It is also possible to specify a keyboard with "dead keys". This reduces the number of keystrokes to 2 from 3 (e.g. comma,C instead of Compose,comma,C for ) but means you must type (comma,comma) to get a comma.

This works on my RedHat 6.2 system with XFree86 version 3 and a 105-key Fujitsu keyboard, and is I believe fairly general.

The table shows the keys to generate ISO-8859-1 characters using Multi_Key, here shown as "m". In ~/.Xmodmap, I have the line

keycode 117 =  Multi_key
to assign a suitable key (keycode of one of those useless "Windows" keys found with "xev") to the compose character "Multi_key". If you have a DEC keyboard with a real "compose" key then you would naturally use that.
Accented characters are built up by keying (multikey, first key, second key) as separate keystrokes (not holding down multikey)

The modifiers are mostly fairly intuitive, using punctuation characters that look vaguely like the accents - forward quote ' for acute accent, backquote ` for grave, caret ^ for circumflex, comma for cedilla, double quote " for diaeresis.

         Oct   Dec   Hex   Char   Description
	 --------------------------------------------------------------------
	 240   160   A0           NO-BREAK SPACE
m ! ! 	 241   161   A1          INVERTED EXCLAMATION MARK
m | c 	 242   162   A2          CENT SIGN
m - L 	 243   163   A3          POUND SIGN
m o x 	 244   164   A4          CURRENCY SIGN
m Y - 	 245   165   A5          YEN SIGN
m | | 	 246   166   A6          BROKEN BAR
m s o 	 247   167   A7          SECTION SIGN
m " "   250   168   A8          DIAERESIS
m O c 	 251   169   A9          COPYRIGHT SIGN
m _ a 	 252   170   AA          FEMININE ORDINAL INDICATOR
m < < 	 253   171   AB          LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
m , - 	 254   172   AC          NOT SIGN
m - - 	 255   173   AD          SOFT HYPHEN
m O R 	 256   174   AE          REGISTERED SIGN
m - ^ 	 257   175   AF          MACRON
m ^ 0 	 260   176   B0          DEGREE SIGN
m + - 	 261   177   B1          PLUS-MINUS SIGN
m ^ 2 	 262   178   B2          SUPERSCRIPT TWO
m ^ 3 	 263   179   B3          SUPERSCRIPT THREE
m ' '   264   180   B4          ACUTE ACCENT
m / u 	 265   181   B5          MICRO SIGN
m p ! 	 266   182   B6          PILCROW SIGN
m . .   267   183   B7          MIDDLE DOT
m , ,   270   184   B8          CEDILLA
m ^ 1 	 271   185   B9          SUPERSCRIPT ONE
m _ o 	 272   186   BA          MASCULINE ORDINAL INDICATOR
m > > 	 273   187   BB          RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
m 1 4 	 274   188   BC          VULGAR FRACTION ONE QUARTER
m 1 2 	 275   189   BD          VULGAR FRACTION ONE HALF
m 3 4 	 276   190   BE          VULGAR FRACTION THREE QUARTERS
m ? ? 	 277   191   BF          INVERTED QUESTION MARK
m ` A   300   192   C0          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH GRAVE
m ' A   301   193   C1          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH ACUTE
m ^ A   302   194   C2          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m ~ A 	 303   195   C3          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH TILDE
m " A 	 304   196   C4          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH DIAERESIS
m * A 	 305   197   C5          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH RING ABOVE
m A E 	 306   198   C6          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER AE
m , C 	 307   199   C7          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER C WITH CEDILLA
m ` E 	 310   200   C8          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E WITH GRAVE
m ' E 	 311   201   C9          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E WITH ACUTE
m ^ E 	 312   202   CA          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " E 	 313   203   CB          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E WITH DIAERESIS
m ` I 	 314   204   CC          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER I WITH GRAVE
m ' I 	 315   205   CD          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER I WITH ACUTE
m ^ I 	 316   206   CE          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER I WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " I 	 317   207   CF          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER I WITH DIAERESIS
m - D 	 320   208   D0          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER ETH
m ~ N 	 321   209   D1          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER N WITH TILDE
m ` O 	 322   210   D2          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH GRAVE
m ' O 	 323   211   D3          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH ACUTE
m ^ O 	 324   212   D4          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m ~ O 	 325   213   D5          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH TILDE
m " O 	 326   214   D6          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH DIAERESIS
m x x 	 327   215   D7          MULTIPLICATION SIGN
m / O 	 330   216   D8          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH STROKE
m ` U 	 331   217   D9          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U WITH GRAVE
m ' U 	 332   218   DA          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U WITH ACUTE
m ^ U 	 333   219   DB          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " U 	 334   220   DC          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U WITH DIAERESIS
m ' Y 	 335   221   DD          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Y WITH ACUTE
m T H 	 336   222   DE          LATIN CAPITAL LETTER THORN
m s s 	 337   223   DF          LATIN SMALL LETTER SHARP S
m ` a   340   224   E0          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH GRAVE
m ' a 	 341   225   E1          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH ACUTE
m ^ a 	 342   226   E2          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m ~ a 	 343   227   E3          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH TILDE
m " a 	 344   228   E4          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH DIAERESIS
m * a 	 345   229   E5          LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH RING ABOVE
m a e 	 346   230   E6          LATIN SMALL LETTER AE
m , c 	 347   231   E7          LATIN SMALL LETTER C WITH CEDILLA
m ` e 	 350   232   E8          LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH GRAVE
m ' e 	 351   233   E9          LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH ACUTE
m ^ e 	 352   234   EA          LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " e 	 353   235   EB          LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH DIAERESIS
m ` i 	 354   236   EC          LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH GRAVE
m ' i 	 355   237   ED          LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH ACUTE
m ^ i 	 356   238   EE          LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " i 	 357   239   EF          LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH DIAERESIS
m - d 	 360   240   F0          LATIN SMALL LETTER ETH
m ~ n 	 361   241   F1          LATIN SMALL LETTER N WITH TILDE
m ` o 	 362   242   F2          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH GRAVE
m ' o 	 363   243   F3          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH ACUTE
m ^ o 	 364   244   F4          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m ~ o 	 365   245   F5          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH TILDE
m " o 	 366   246   F6          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH DIAERESIS
m - : 	 367   247   F7          DIVISION SIGN
m / o 	 370   248   F8          LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH STROKE
m ` u 	 371   249   F9          LATIN SMALL LETTER U WITH GRAVE
m ' u 	 372   250   FA          LATIN SMALL LETTER U WITH ACUTE
m ^ u 	 373   251   FB          LATIN SMALL LETTER U WITH CIRCUMFLEX
m " u 	 374   252   FC          LATIN SMALL LETTER U WITH DIAERESIS
m ' y 	 375   253   FD          LATIN SMALL LETTER Y WITH ACUTE
m t h 	 376   254   FE          LATIN SMALL LETTER THORN
m " y 	 377   255   FF          LATIN SMALL LETTER Y WITH DIAERESIS
See also:
Andrew Daviel