xscreensaver doesn't show which is the current keyboard layout, so sometimes I can't enter my password, because I've switched to Cyrillic without knowing it. I found a discussion about the same problem at http://forum.xfce.org/viewtopic.php?id=6877, for example.

Is there a way to make it show the current keyboard layout, or always switch to English?

My system is Debian Wheezy.


Can be done via executing a couple of setxkbmap lines before locking (in xfce, into /usr/bin/xflock4, see: http://www.reddit.com/r/xfce/comments/11yi34/reset_the_keyboard_layout_on_xscreensaver_lock/ similar to:

setxkbmap -layout us 
setxkbmap -layout us,ru

This should disable and then re-enable the international layout, supposedly switching the current layout to the US one. Seems to work fine. Just re-tested, and it doesn't. But the general solution is along those lines, just need more experimentation.

  • I see that you use the line setxkbmap -layout us,ru. I assume it must be manually tuned to whichever configuration I have, and when I change configurations? I set my keyboard layout from the GUI, though, do you have an idea how I could figure out how this line should look for me? Maybe print out my actual layouts or something... – sashoalm May 29 '14 at 10:33
  • Sorry, "false alarm" that it works for me, updated the comment accordingly. – user68917 May 29 '14 at 10:37

At least on ubuntu the following worked for me:

  1. Created folder: mkdir ~/.startup
  2. And a file touch ~/.startup/xscreensaver-reset-kbd-us.pl
  3. Chmodded it chmod 755 ~/.startup/xscreensaver-reset-kbd-us.pl
  4. Edit (copy&paste the code below) gedit ~/.startup/xscreensaver-reset-kbd-us.pl

    my $blanked = 0;
    open (IN, "xscreensaver-command -watch |");
    while (<IN>) {
        if (m/^(BLANK|LOCK)/) {
            if (!$blanked) {
               system "setxkbmap -layout us";
               $blanked = 1;
        } elsif (m/^UNBLANK/) {
            system "setxkbmap -layout us,ru";
            $blanked = 0;
  5. Added the script to startup applications

It watches the events from xscreensaver and resets keyboard layout to english only on lock, and adds the ru layout back upon unblank.

  • excellent, thank you! Works on Ubuntu 16.04.4 – hooke May 31 '18 at 13:20

Another option is installing a different screen locking utility, e.g. just now I tried "i3lock" http://i3wm.org/i3lock/ , it works without requiring any hacking around keyboard layouts whatsoever.

  • Yes, I had tried installing gnome-screensaver, but it seemed to want to install half of GNOME desktop with it, including Pulseaudio and what not. In the end I decided to stay with xscreensaver. Might try your suggestion, though. – sashoalm May 29 '14 at 10:57
  • You might add that i3lock reset the keyboard layout when the user is entering a password. That "works" iff the password can be entered with the primary layout. – Aryeh Leib Taurog Jul 16 '14 at 7:47
  • i3lock doesn't work for me (Debian Jessie). The layout I have selected before locking remains effective when I enter the password. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jan 4 '16 at 19:35

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