My current keyboard config is quite complex, but the relevant line is:

setxkbmap -option -option 'grp:rshift_toggle, compose:rctrl' dmru,ru,ua &  

Rshift now cycles through dmru, ru, and ua. When my screen gets locked, I have no way of knowing which layout am I using to type my password, and in general it would be awesome to have a shortcut which takes me back to english. (dmru in this case, it's a custom layout.) I can't run setxkbmap $language at every switch because it breaks my xcape and xmodmap settings; running them every time takes a couple of seconds and is not practical.

Would it be possible to switch to a particular language, without running setxkbmap every time?

1 Answer 1


The group-switch options operate with 4 keysyms: ISO_First_Group, ISO_Last_Group, ISO_Next_Group, and ISO_Prev_Group. The option you use, grp:rshift_toggle, only provides ISO_Next_Group, so cycling through the layouts is all you're seeing.

The behavior you're looking for (select a specific layout) exists on the ISO_First_Group or ISO_Last_Group keysyms. You want to find an existing (or write a new) option that supplies at least one of those keysyms.

Looking quickly through man xkeyboard-config, these existing options appear to include ISO_First_Group:

  • grp:shift_caps_switch: Caps Lock to first layout; Shift+Caps Lock to last layout
  • grp:win_menu_switch: Left Win to first layout; Right Win/Menu to last layout
  • grp:lctrl_rctrl_switch: Left Ctrl to first layout; Right Ctrl to last layout
  • grp:lctrl_lwin_rctrl_menu: Left Ctrl+Left Win to first layout; Right Ctrl+Menu to second layout

These options are defined in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/group. One of them may be acceptable for your use. If they don't provide exactly what you want, you can use the definitions to tailor your keymap to your needs.

  • Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for! I didn't know similar options can be combined, two group-switches in my case.
    – pchr8
    Jun 17, 2018 at 8:45
  • you do have to watch out for conflicts with other options -- the grp:lctrl_rctrl_switch option would conflict with your compose:rctrl option, and whichever you applied last would overwrite the other.
    – quixotic
    Jun 17, 2018 at 21:24

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