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I use standard Danish QWERTY keyboard (on Debian, if the distro matters). Is it at all possible to write German umlauts such as Ä, Ö, Ü by some key combos (that is without changing the layout to German)?

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It's possible even in a Portuguese keyboard, and we don't have umlauts! If you have dead keys (as I do), combining them with Alt Gr and Shift will likely make you able to write characters of any language with the Latin alphabet. Plus, you can load keyboard layouts per session if you prefer. That kind of internationalization I love is something missing in Windows. – JMCF125 Jan 26 '14 at 18:47
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The key between Å and Enter should produce a "dead diaeresis". I.e. pressing the ¨ key followed by u should produce ü.

I'm not Danish so I'm basing this on my knowledge of the Finnish/Swedish keyboard and Wikipedia.

Danish keyboard from wikipedia

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On my system (UK keyboard),

$ xmodmap -pke | grep dead_diaeresis
keycode  34 = bracketleft braceleft bracketleft braceleft dead_diaeresis dead_abovering dead_diaeresis

The fact that it is in 5th position in there means that it's obtained in combination with the ISO_Level3_Shift key.

$ xmodmap -pke | grep ISO_Level3_Shift
keycode 108 = ISO_Level3_Shift Multi_key ISO_Level3_Shift Multi_key

You can locate what key they are using:

xkbprint -label code "$DISPLAY" keyboard.ps

And look at the generated PostScript file (for instance with evince or gv).

On my keyboard, the ISO_Level3_Shift (keycode 108) key is marked AltGr and the one with the dead diaeresis (keycode 34) is marked [.

So if I type AltGr+[, Shift+A, I get Ä.

You'll notice above that the second field for that AltGr key (which is when combined with Shift) is Multi_key aka Compose. So, to get a Ä, I can also type Shift+AltGr, ", A.

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