Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If I want to log in to the traditional text shell, I can only use the right side control and alt keys, the left side ones will do nothing. Once I switch to another shell, I now have to use the left ctrl and alt keys if I want to switch back to the graphical shell (or a different text shell).

I'm using Fedora 16. What gives?

share|improve this question
Did you mean one of those to be left? – Kevin Apr 17 '12 at 19:33
Yes, thanks. Fixed – davidglanzman Apr 18 '12 at 2:41

You probably have a keyboard mapping where one of the keys labeled Alt does not actually act as the Alt modifier. For instance, some layouts will map the right-Alt key to AltGr instead.

To find out what is happening, try running the xev program in your X session. It will display all of the keyboard events that it receives.

share|improve this answer
I'm getting Alt_R and Alt_L, as well as Ctrl_R and Ctrl_L. So they definitely are distinguishing between left and right for some reason. – davidglanzman Apr 18 '12 at 2:40
@davidglanzman That's normal, so it's not the cause of your problem. – 200_success Apr 18 '12 at 20:59

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.