The official Qubes OS faq entry only covers how to change the layout globally - ie. both for dom0 and VMs, with a single layout.
This document shows several ways of using multiple keyboard layouts and being able to quickly switch between them.
setxkbmap in each VM. Dom0 stays untouched (running
setxkbmap in dom0 too will interfere with the VM’s
For instance the following command would alternate between the US English and the Bulgarian phonetic layout when pressing both shift keys:
setxkbmap -layout "us,bg(phonetic)" -option "grp:shifts_toggle"
To automatically run the
setxkbmap command when the VM starts, add a
/etc/xdg/autostart/setxkbmap.desktop file in the VM’s template with the following content:
[Desktop Entry] Name=Configure multiple keyboard layouts Exec=setxkbmap -layout "us,bg(phonetic)" -option "grp:shifts_toggle" Terminal=true Type=Application
Note: for some reason, with
Terminal=false the setxkbmap settings aren’t applied until one runs
setxkbmap without options in a terminal. Setting
Terminal=true works around this problem, but you will notice a terminal flicker at startup.
If you prefer to have a per-vm setup rather than per-template, create a
/rw/config/setxkbmap.desktop with the same content as above and add the following line to
cp /rw/config/setxkbmap.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart
Note: the reason we can’t put the
setxkbmap command in the
rc.local script is because the X server isn’t running when
rc.local is executed.
Alternatively, you could add the
setxkbmap command to your profile’s
.bashrc file if you use terminals to start applications.
- Configure a keyboard shortcut in dom0 that would run
qvm-run vname 'setxkbmap ...', where the VM is the one whose window is under the mouse pointer (using
xprop -id $(xdotool getactivewindow) ). An advantage is that it doesn’t require tweaking VMs or templates, but this is a bit convoluted and
qvm-runis sometimes slow when the system is under heavy I/O usage, so the layout switch doesn’t happen immediately which is annoying.
- Change the layout with
setxkbmaponly in dom0. This isn’t optimal because:
- there is no way to know which layout is used when typing the password in the xscreensaver’s password field.
- sometimes the keyboard layout would not be propagated to one of the VMs, requiring a reboot of the VM.
- Once Qubes OS gains support for keyboard layout propagation from dom0 to VMs (see this official issue) the desktop environment’s keyboard layout switcher (eg. Xfce Keyboard Layout switcher) could be used instead of
setxkbmap. It is not clear however if this solution won’t have the same issues as above.
- Change the layout in dom0 with
localectl: it’s a no-go as it requires a reboot