I'm trying to make a custom keyboard variant for Ubuntu 17.10 with default gnome (Xorg).

In file /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/be I added the text below:

partial alphanumeric_keys
xkb_symbols "r03" {

    include "be(basic)"
    name[Group1]="Belgian (r03)";

    key <TLDE>  { [ at, threesuperior, onesuperior, lessthanequal ] };


There will be more changes, but this is a test. The key above tab should be '@'.
(My complete layout is available here: https://github.com/roelandmoors/azerty#installing-on-linux)

I also changed /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml to add this new variant to the 'be' layout:

    <description>Belgian (r03)</description>

The folder /var/lib/xkb only contains a readme.

When I use setxkbmap -layout be -variant r03 the new keymap seems to work fine.

The problem is that I can't select the new variant when I run sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration. In the gnome settings I can't even select a variant. I tried with the dconf editor to change /org/gnome/desktop/input-sources/sources to [('xkb', 'be+r03')] but then I get a querty layout instead of azerty. (fallback if settings is wrong?)

How can I make my new layout selectable in the settings. I want this as my default keyboard layout (also in gdm).


I got sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration working, but it is very uggly. (don't do it, just edit /etc/default/keyboard)

Copy the output of this command:

sudo /usr/share/console-setup/kbdnames-maker /usr/share/console-setup/KeyboardNames.pl | grep r03

I should be something like this: C*variant*be*r03*Belgian - Belgian (r03)

Then add this line to this file: (search for similar lines)

sudo vi /var/lib/dpkg/info/keyboard-configuration.config

Now you can select the new variant in dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration.

  • Did you reboot after having made the changes? – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 6 '17 at 21:46
  • yes, but that didn't help. – roeland Nov 6 '17 at 22:30
  • I added the above snippets to my 17.10, and it works fine for me. Found in GNOME settings under "French (Belgium)". – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 6 '17 at 22:59
  • Could you make a screenshot or something? I don't have French (Belgium) only Belgian. – roeland Nov 7 '17 at 7:20
  • I found it, I changed org.gnome.desktop.input-sources show-all-sources back to the default and changed my regional format settings to the correct value. After a reboot I could choose the new variant. Thanks! – roeland Nov 7 '17 at 8:54

The manual way to make the custom layout available on the login screen is to edit the /etc/default/keyboard file. Assuming that it currently includes these two lines:


you can e.g. change them to read:


After next reboot, a keyboard layout indicator should be visible allowing you to choose betweeen Belgian (r03) and Belgian. Probably the former willl be preselected.

  • Thx, that works as you describe. I think this could also be done with dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration, but there I can't select my new layout variant. – roeland Nov 8 '17 at 18:38
  • @r03: I suspect that the reason is that you didn't edit the evdev.lst file too. But it's a guess; didn't test. – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 8 '17 at 18:51
  • I don't think that is the problem. It looks like the program reads xorg.xml. anonscm.debian.org/cgit/d-i/console-setup.git/tree/Keyboard/… But it's OK. I changed the default keyboard file and it works. – roeland Nov 8 '17 at 23:03
  • @r03: xorg.xml is a symlink pointing to base.xml, so then maybe copying the modified evdev.xml to base.xml would make a difference (for some reason they both exist on Ubuntu and they are identical). – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 9 '17 at 3:27
  • That didn't work. I added an uggly fix in my answer. – roeland Nov 9 '17 at 21:57

To make the custom layout selectable also on the login screen, you can go to Settings -> Region & Language, click the Login Screen button at the top right of the window, and add it there as well.

enter image description here

  • I don't see that button? ibb.co/hzP4Sb – roeland Nov 7 '17 at 18:10
  • @r03: I can't see it on that screenshot either. Is your system updated? sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 7 '17 at 20:26
  • 1
    @r03: Hmm.. I'm confused, and filed bug #1730900. – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 8 '17 at 7:47
  • 1
    @r03: For the sake of completeness: The "Login Screen" button is showed only if you have more than one user accounts on the system. Compare this answer. – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Nov 13 '17 at 11:39

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