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French accents on a FreeBSD Lenovo laptop

May 05, 2023 — Nico Cartron
Putting it here for me, but maybe useful for others

The need

I recently bought a Lenovo t440p laptop, and have installed FreeBSD on it.

Of course, I'm using a QWERTY (UK) keyboard, and sometimes I do write emails or documents (or even blog posts!) in French, so I have to type accents.

Fixing it

In order to do this, you just need to add the below line to your ~/.xinitrc:

 setxkbmap -option compose:lwin

This sets up the Compose key to be the left Windows key.

Then if you need to type é, you press Windows+', then release them, then e

Testing it

This works for all the accents I had to do:

  • è => Win+` then e
  • ê => Win+Shift+6 then e
  • ë => Win+Shift+2 then e


This is similar to how I type accents on my work MacOS laptop (also running a QWERTY layout, but US that type) - the composer key is different, but the philosophy is the same.


I even realised that you can use the letter and the accent key in any order you want, so instead of Win+' then e for é, you can do Win+e, then ' - this is really neat :)

Tags: FreeBSD, Tips

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