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I notice that the installer for Ubuntu Server 12.04.1 LTS contains an option that appears to allow you to toggle between more than one keyboard layout:

English (US) - English (layout toggle on multiply/divide key)

However, there is no information about this shown in the installer, and I can't find anything useful online.

I regularly switch back and forth between the US and US Dvorak keyboard layouts, and think it would be very useful to be able to toggle between layouts. How does this work, and what is this "multiply/divide" key mentioned by the installer? When I select this option, the installation appears to proceed with the US keyboard layout.

Ubuntu Server 12.04.1 Configure the keyboard screen

The install completed successfully, and continues to be in standard US keyboard mode.

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It might mean the asterisk (*) and forward slash (/) keys. Just an idea. – Seth Feb 2 '13 at 5:30
Well, that's what I wondered too, but the asterisk and slash keys of course just print asterisks and slashes. It wouldn't make sense to assign a hotkey to such commonly used keys, so perhaps it requires modifiers. I've tried using different modifiers, and combinations of modifiers. I'm wondering if there is perhaps a special multiply/divide key on extended keyboards (I'm on a laptop, and don't even own an extended keyboard). The installer never asked me which layouts to toggle between, so should I expect to see a text-based pop-up prompting me to select between all the English layouts? – Steve HHH Feb 2 '13 at 5:48
Thinking more about it, the screen does seem to be referring to a single key: toggle on multiply/divide key is singular. – Steve HHH Feb 2 '13 at 6:35
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Weird. All those other descriptions in parentheses just give you more information about which particular English layout you are using. They shouldn't say anything about toggling layouts.


Check out man xkeyboard-config:

   │us                               English (US)                                                    │
   │us(chr)                          Cherokee                                                        │
   │us(euro)                         English (US, with euro on 5)                                    │
   │us(intl)                         English (US, international with dead keys)                      │
   │us(alt-intl)                     English (US, alternative international)                         │
   │us(colemak)                      English (Colemak)                                               │
   │us(dvorak)                       English (Dvorak)                                                │
   │us(dvorak-intl)                  English (Dvorak international with dead keys)                   │
   │us(dvorak-alt-intl)              English (Dvorak alternative international no dead keys)         │
   │us(dvorak-l)                     English (left handed Dvorak)                                    │
   │us(dvorak-r)                     English (right handed Dvorak)                                   │
   │us(dvorak-classic)               English (classic Dvorak)                                        │
   │us(dvp)                          English (programmer Dvorak)                                     │
   │us(rus)                          Russian (US, phonetic)                                          │
   │us(mac)                          English (Macintosh)                                             │
   │us(altgr-intl)                   English (international AltGr dead keys)                         │
   │us(olpc2)                        English (layout toggle on multiply/divide key)                  │
   │us(hbs)                          Serbo-Croatian (US)  

Apparently that particular layout is olpc2, which AFAIK is the One Laptop Per Child layout. I suppose it has one key to multiply/divide since the keys are so squished.

One Laptop Per Child

That said, you can still bind a key to switch the layout. In 12.10 you go to Keyboard->Options and about midway through the options there is one called Keys to Change Layout. I remember 12.04 was very similar.

I like Shift+Caps Lock since I never use that combination for anything else.

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After a lot of Googling,I believe I understand it. The English keyboard with "toggle on multiply/divide key" is a legacy option to support the XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project. The layout is located in /lib/udev/keymaps/olpc-xo. Apparently, there were some hardware bugs with the keycodes on the XO. As a workaround on bilingual XO devices, the multiply/divide key (a key that existed on that device but is not a standard key on other devices) was used to to switch between keyboard layouts.

I installed the keyboard and it can be fairly useful if you type a lot of non-English characters, plus it has some useful combining diacritics. To insert the special characters, use System Settings > Keyboard Layout > Options to set the Compose key or an AltGr key.

Again, the multiply/divide key does not exist on standard devices, so the way to toggle between this layout and any other keyboard layout, such as US Dvorak, is through the same standard settings path above. Within Keyboard Layout Options use Key(s) to change layout to set a toggle of your choice.

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