Greek layout code in Xorg

The current source uses gr instead of el for the Greek layout.

The change took place 19 months ago, according to
in an attempt to introduce consistency in the layout names.

There is currently a discussion at the Greek localisation mailing list,
about this issue, as several users that, either edit directly /etc/xorg.conf or use setxkbmap, found that their keyboard switching instructions are not working anymore.

Original XFree86 used to call the Greek layout gr and in 2001 a patch was submitted to change this to el:

In general, the end-user should not have to deal with the internal names of the keyboard layouts; the desktop environment should provide human readable names. Currently, the Keyboard Indicator in GNOME offers this facility. It reads xorg.xml where it finds “Greece” and presents to the end-user. The same file lists the internal name of the keyboard layout for “Greece” so the change can take place.

Do you manually configure your Linux in order to write Greek?

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  1. Unfortunately, this isn’t the exact situation;
    The renaming took place only in the symbols/pc directory, while the keymap in symbols/ remained ‘el’ , as well as the refereces inside those files. Thus, no directive works at all, unless renaiming the file inside the pc/ directory to ‘el’, or by changing everything (end the references inside the files) to gr (messy and error-prone).

    The abovementioned bug mentions another keymaps package, which my distribution opted not to include(*), so this applies to vanilla 6.9/7.0 sources, where Greek keyboard map are entirely broken, and we have to work upstream, distribution by distribution, to solve it.

    I am in favour of keeping the name ‘el’, to avoid confusion in regard to the HOW-TOs and the already set up packages and programs.

    I am also against desktop-specific settings, but that’s an entirely different story. 😉

    • stavrosg on February 14, 2006 at 14:01
    • Reply

    I am using Arch Linux, and we currently have the package xkbdata 1.0.1:
    testing/xkbdata 1.0.1-1 Bitmap files

    The bug I refer is #5012 ( ), where Sergey V.Udaltsov says:

    xorg original XKB DB is not actively supported these days (it is really
    deprecated). People tend to use xkeyboard-config which does not have directory
    symbols/pc at all – everything is in symbols.

    (comment #5).
    That’s a *really* bad attitude IMHO (Yes, I know it’s broken, and I don’t care. But I’ll ship it nonetheless and you can go xxxx yourself) *sigh*

    Unfortunately, according to my distribution’s packager, this isn’t a feasible solution either:

    xkbdata is horribly broken. I’ve seen several keymaps failing. It seems
    they ported the xkbdata stuff from the new xkeyboard-config project,
    which is far from ideal too (I tried packaging it on my system, after
    installing it gnome-settings-daemon crashes multiple times after
    changing keymaps and my scrollock LED is always burning when capslock
    and numlock are off).

    This happened more than a month ago, and so far there isn’t any indication that things are improving on any front.

    Obviously, if you have some more info, please tell us. 🙂


  2. Which distribution are you refering to?

    Which keymaps package is that? Are you refering to xkeyboard-config?

    Can you show me the affected files under

    If you can provide me with this information, I am happy to go into the trouble to fix myself.

  3. This appears to be a particular mess that relates to the Arch Linux distribution only ;-[

    It appears it is a generic issue with all languages and not restricted to Greek.

    I do not understand why they do not migrate to xkeyboard-config like other distributions have (for example, Ubuntu). Aren’t there enough contributors/testers in Arch for this component?

    What should be done is to properly install xkeyboard-config on Arch. There are instructions for this at
    (check the CVS, and especially the transition document under docs/).

    • Nikos Platis on February 17, 2006 at 11:43
    • Reply

    Unfortunately, a bug similar to the one mentioned in the first comment exists in the Mandriva 2006.0 6.9 packages. See the following page:
    This page describes proposed patches to fix the problem, but someone more experienced could suggest a “correct” solution (or should we just wait for the official patch?)

  4. Thanks for mentioning this bug report.

    The relevant files for writing support in X.Org are located at
    For example, the “gr” file is at

    Have a look there and see whether the same inconsistency exists between the use of “el” and “gr”.
    The “absolute source” of the files is what you see from the website. If you fix this issue at, all distributions will benefit from the change in the next version.

    Therefore, if Mandrake plans to produce an update of the relevant package, you can get them to add the fix for Greek. This will be a workaround so that users can easily have Greek writing support for this version of Mandriva Linux.

    It is important for Greek users of a distribution to test the beta versions of their distribution to find such bugs. I see more and more Mandriva users; I hope the next version works out of the box. Ubuntu had almost this problem but it was detected and fixed at the last moment!

  5. Hi, Sorry I don’t know greece
    I want to add support for the Coptic language (The Egyptian language with Greece letters)
    but I really Don’t know how
    since your language is the nearest one to my language and since you use linux like me
    I need your help

    Can you help me to add coptic support for linux and KDE?
    Sorry if I didn’t fill the fields correctly

  6. Hi Mina,
    In the Unicode standard, Coptic and Greek resided at the same block. Most of the characters were similar to Greek, so only those that were different have been added there. Recently, Coptic got their own Unicode block, supporting the full Coptic alphabet and also certain old related scripts. Have a look at Under “Coptic” you can see the “old” combined “Greek+Coptic” and the new “Coptic-only” list of letters.

    It appears that Coptic uses the Greek alphabet as it was before the time of Alexander the Great, therefore there are no accents. The alphabet matches in the number of letters on a typical computer keyboard, so it is an issue of simply redefining the keys to emit Coptic letters.

    I do not want to overload you will too match information; for background reading have a look at and
    The second document is being updated at the moment.

    As a hint of the work to do to support Coptic, you can take the Greek keyboard file and replace the letters with those for Coptic.

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