I'm using Gnome desktop environment on Debian 9.5, my laptop is Acer Aspire V5 series.

I usually cycle through three keyboard languages during the day: English, Italian and Spanish. The first two layouts work perfectly, but just today I realize that the Spanish layout is giving me quotation marks when it should give me accented characters. For instance:

' then e, should produce " é ", but it is giving me " ´e " instead.

I've been using this version of Debian and Gnome Desktop since a year ago, and I never had this problem before. This week I had an apt upgrade of the system, so I suspect that action unleashed the problem. I wonder if it is a bug of the latest updated software or maybe that the firmware of my keyboard needs to be updated.

Please, if there is anyone out there having the same problem I would like some hints on how can it be fixed.


This fellow had the same problem two years ago, but unfortunately his question was never answered: Accented characters stopped working on French Canadian keyboard.

  • This thread suggests two things: 1) run the script in the thread and see what compose options you have 2) Open System Menu --> Preferences --> Keyboard Layout --> Layouts tab --> Select your layout --> Options --> Compose key. This debian manual page suggests dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration or dpkg-reconfigure console-setup, and make sure the settings are reasonable.
    – Nick ODell
    Jul 21, 2018 at 6:19
  • @roaima, So this is being reopened, so that it can be closed as a dupe? Shouldn't that be a mod flag? Jul 21, 2018 at 13:02
  • @roaima - I reopened this.
    – slm
    Jul 21, 2018 at 15:31
  • @StephenRauch - I reopened this.
    – slm
    Jul 21, 2018 at 15:31
  • 1
    If you'd like you can move your solution from the Q to an A'er and then mark yours as accepted. I cleaned up the edits so it should be just a copy/paste job.
    – slm
    Jul 21, 2018 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


After some Google searching I found that my old method for input accented characters is known as dead keys, there are other methods like compose key; as it is suggested in this: [SOLVED] keyboard entry of "accented" characters - (thank you Nick ODell).

After trying every possible solution I discovered that the input methods were not working on gedit, terminal and evolution, but they did in Libre Office. So I went to tackle the problem on GTK by Google searching again and I found this: Dead keys suddenly stopped working in GTK applications.

I gave a try to apt-get install ibus and that solved the problem.

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