By default the keyboard layout in FreeBSD is set to match the English keyboard. To change that, there are several possibilities to adjust the current keyboard layout.

Temporary set the keyboard layout for the current session

You can simply change it graphically on the terminal with the following command:


After pressing Enter you will get a graphical menu where you can choose your keyboard layout.
Like mentioned this is only a temporary change. If you reboot, the change is gone again.

Another possibility to change the keyboard layout is to use the kbdcontrol command. To know what keyboard layouts are available do the following:

cd /usr/share/syscons/keymaps

You will see something like this:

be.iso.acc.kbd              finnish.cp850.kbd           kk.pt154.kst.kbd            swissfrench.iso.kbd
be.iso.kbd                  finnish.iso.kbd             latinamerican.iso.acc.kbd   swissgerman.cp850.kbd
bg.bds.ctrlcaps.kbd         fr_CA.iso.acc.kbd           latinamerican.kbd           swissgerman.iso.acc.kbd
bg.phonetic.ctrlcaps.kbd    fr.dvorak.acc.kbd           lt.iso4.kbd                 swissgerman.iso.kbd
br275.cp850.kbd             fr.dvorak.kbd               norwegian.dvorak.kbd        swissgerman.macbook.acc.kbd
br275.iso.acc.kbd           fr.iso.acc.kbd              norwegian.iso.kbd           tr.iso9.q.kbd
br275.iso.kbd               fr.iso.kbd                  pl_PL.dvorak.kbd            ua.iso5.kbd
by.cp1131.kbd               fr.macbook.acc.kbd          pl_PL.ISO8859-2.kbd         ua.koi8-u.kbd
by.cp1251.kbd               german.cp850.kbd            pt.iso.acc.kbd              ua.koi8-u.shift.alt.kbd
by.iso5.kbd                 german.iso.acc.kbd          pt.iso.kbd                  uk.cp850-ctrl.kbd
ce.iso2.kbd                 german.iso.kbd              ru.cp866.kbd                uk.cp850.kbd
colemak-dh.iso15.acc.kbd    gr.elot.acc.kbd             ru.iso5.kbd                 uk.dvorak.kbd
colemak.iso15.acc.kbd       gr.us101.acc.kbd            ru.koi8-r.kbd               uk.iso-ctrl.kbd
cs.latin2.qwertz.kbd        hr.iso.kbd                  ru.koi8-r.shift.kbd         uk.iso.kbd
cz.iso2.kbd                 hu.iso2.101keys.kbd           us.dvorak.kbd
danish.cp865.kbd            hu.iso2.102keys.kbd         si.iso.kbd                  us.dvorakl.kbd
danish.iso.acc.kbd          hy.armscii-8.kbd            sk.iso2.kbd                 us.dvorakp.kbd
danish.iso.kbd              icelandic.iso.acc.kbd       spanish.dvorak.kbd          us.dvorakr.kbd
danish.iso.macbook.kbd      icelandic.iso.kbd           spanish.iso.acc.kbd         us.dvorakx.kbd
dutch.iso.acc.kbd           INDEX.keymaps               spanish.iso.kbd             us.emacs.kbd
eee_nordic.kbd              it.iso.kbd                  spanish.iso15.acc.kbd       us.iso.acc.kbd
el.iso07.kbd                iw.iso8.kbd                 swedish.cp850.kbd           us.iso.kbd
estonian.cp850.kbd          jp.106.kbd                  swedish.iso.kbd             us.iso.macbook.kbd
estonian.iso.kbd            jp.106x.kbd                 swissfrench.cp850.kbd       us.pc-ctrl.kbd
estonian.iso15.kbd             swissfrench.iso.acc.kbd     us.unix.kbd</code></pre></div>

Now you can choose which keyboad layout you would like to use. To use the german keyboad layout you have to type:

kbdcontrol -l german.iso.kbd

Like the first solution this is a temporary change, too.

To make the change permanent you can use the following.

Permanently change the keyboard layout for the system

To make the keyboard layout permanent and do not reset to the default value after a reboot you have to edit the /etc/rc.conf. For editing the file you can use your preferred editor. In this example I use vim.

Open the file as root:

vim /etc/rc.conf

Now type i to switch to “insert” mode.
Now check if there is already a config setting for keymap. If it is there you can change it to your preferred layout. To get the available layout you can do the same like above in the kbdcontrol section. All available layouts are listed in the /usr/share/syscons/keymaps directory. If you use a newer FreeBSD you can simply use de.kbd for example instead of german.iso.kbd.

So just insert into your /etc/rc.conf:


To save and exit the editor just press ESC and then type :wq.

After a reboot your configured keyboard layout should be used.

Categories: FreeBSD