Since I am a hobbyist polyglot and I need to write in a few languages which have extra letters, I would like to find a good way to either customise my current keyboard layout or use a new one.

For instance, I need the letters ß,ä,ö,ü in German; å,ä,ö,æ,ø in Swedish; ç,é,è,à, and some dead keys such as acute, grave, dieresis in French and Spanish, and so on. My main language is French and I am used to the QWERTZ layout with the special chars being like in the Swiss variant. Since every country seems to choose differently where the special chars are, I don't want to simply enable the country's official layout. Alternatively, I would be ready to switch to another layout such as a special Dvorak or Colemak disposition, but I just can't find one which fits my needs and include all the letters I want, even as dead keys or with AltGr+Maj...

What I currently do is modifying directly the ch file in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/, and then adding an entry in /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml, then running sudo dpkg-reconfigure xkb-data, then (extra step in Wayland) adding the entry in dconf under org.gnome.desktop.input-sources.sources, and finally I restart my session, and it works. I was advised to do so, but from times to times, the files I modify get replaced by updates and I have to do it again (pretty annoying). And moreover, I don't understand completely how it works : I tried once to create a fully new layout in a new file, but I was then unable to activate it from the GNOME Settings....

My problem is that I have to switch constantly between keyboard layouts (which isn't actually a true problem since I only use one language at a time), and my current way of customising them is pretty long and annoying. If it were easier than modifying the above mentioned files, I could go further and find better solutions.

What do you think about it ? Is there a GUI to do it ? Or does a layout for Ubuntu exist which provides support for many European languages ?

Thanks in advance !!


Virtual keyboard

It helps to find the special characters (and identify the layout in general), if you use a virtual keyboard, for example onboard.

See this link,

Hungarian accented letters without the physical keyboard

This makes it easier, when you switch keyboard layout between languages.

Suggested method

I think you might prefer to use US English keyboard with international symbols, which is described at the following link,

Making Umlauts in ubuntu 17.10 on a ThinkPad430

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