7.11. Configuring the Linux Console

This section discusses how to configure the console bootscript that sets up the keyboard map, console font and console kernel log level. If non-ASCII characters (e.g., the copyright sign, the British pound sign and Euro symbol) will not be used and the keyboard is a U.S. one, much of this section can be skipped. Without the configuration file, (or equivalent settings in rc.site), the console bootscript will do nothing.

7.11.1. Systemd V

The console script reads the /etc/sysconfig/console file for configuration information. Decide which keymap and screen font will be used. Various language-specific HOWTOs can also help with this, see http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/HOWTO-INDEX/other-lang.html. If still in doubt, look in the /usr/share/keymaps and /usr/share/consolefonts directories for valid keymaps and screen fonts. Read loadkeys(1) and setfont(8) manual pages to determine the correct arguments for these programs.

The /etc/sysconfig/console file should contain lines of the form: VARIABLE="value". The following variables are recognized:

LOGLEVEL

This variable specifies the log level for kernel messages sent to the console as set by dmesg. Valid levels are from "1" (no messages) to "8". The default level is "7".

KEYMAP

This variable specifies the arguments for the loadkeys program, typically, the name of keymap to load, e.g., es. If this variable is not set, the bootscript will not run the loadkeys program, and the default kernel keymap will be used.

KEYMAP_CORRECTIONS

This (rarely used) variable specifies the arguments for the second call to the loadkeys program. This is useful if the stock keymap is not completely satisfactory and a small adjustment has to be made. E.g., to include the Euro sign into a keymap that normally doesn't have it, set this variable to euro2.

FONT

This variable specifies the arguments for the setfont program. Typically, this includes the font name, -m, and the name of the application character map to load. E.g., in order to load the lat1-16 font together with the 8859-1 application character map (as it is appropriate in the USA), set this variable to lat1-16 -m 8859-1. In UTF-8 mode, the kernel uses the application character map for conversion of composed 8-bit key codes in the keymap to UTF-8, and thus the argument of the "-m" parameter should be set to the encoding of the composed key codes in the keymap.

UNICODE

Set this variable to 1, yes or true in order to put the console into UTF-8 mode. This is useful in UTF-8 based locales and harmful otherwise.

LEGACY_CHARSET

For many keyboard layouts, there is no stock Unicode keymap in the Kbd package. The console bootscript will convert an available keymap to UTF-8 on the fly if this variable is set to the encoding of the available non-UTF-8 keymap.

Some examples:

  • For a non-Unicode setup, only the KEYMAP and FONT variables are generally needed. E.g., for a Polish setup, one would use:

    cat > /etc/sysconfig/console << "EOF"
    # Begin /etc/sysconfig/console
    
    KEYMAP="pl2"
    FONT="lat2a-16 -m 8859-2"
    
    # End /etc/sysconfig/console
    EOF
    
  • As mentioned above, it is sometimes necessary to adjust a stock keymap slightly. The following example adds the Euro symbol to the German keymap:

    cat > /etc/sysconfig/console << "EOF"
    # Begin /etc/sysconfig/console
    
    KEYMAP="de-latin1"
    KEYMAP_CORRECTIONS="euro2"
    FONT="lat0-16 -m 8859-15"
    
    # End /etc/sysconfig/console
    EOF
    
  • The following is a Unicode-enabled example for Bulgarian, where a stock UTF-8 keymap exists:

    cat > /etc/sysconfig/console << "EOF"
    # Begin /etc/sysconfig/console
    
    UNICODE="1"
    KEYMAP="bg_bds-utf8"
    FONT="LatArCyrHeb-16"
    
    # End /etc/sysconfig/console
    EOF
    
  • Due to the use of a 512-glyph LatArCyrHeb-16 font in the previous example, bright colors are no longer available on the Linux console unless a framebuffer is used. If one wants to have bright colors without framebuffer and can live without characters not belonging to his language, it is still possible to use a language-specific 256-glyph font, as illustrated below:

    cat > /etc/sysconfig/console << "EOF"
    # Begin /etc/sysconfig/console
    
    UNICODE="1"
    KEYMAP="bg_bds-utf8"
    FONT="cyr-sun16"
    
    # End /etc/sysconfig/console
    EOF
    
  • The following example illustrates keymap autoconversion from ISO-8859-15 to UTF-8 and enabling dead keys in Unicode mode:

    cat > /etc/sysconfig/console << "EOF"
    # Begin /etc/sysconfig/console
    
    UNICODE="1"
    KEYMAP="de-latin1"
    KEYMAP_CORRECTIONS="euro2"
    LEGACY_CHARSET="iso-8859-15"
    FONT="LatArCyrHeb-16 -m 8859-15"
    
    # End /etc/sysconfig/console
    EOF
    
  • Some keymaps have dead keys (i.e., keys that don't produce a character by themselves, but put an accent on the character produced by the next key) or define composition rules (such as: press Ctrl+. A E to get in the default keymap). Linux-3.14 interprets dead keys and composition rules in the keymap correctly only when the source characters to be composed together are not multibyte. This deficiency doesn't affect keymaps for European languages, because there accents are added to unaccented ASCII characters, or two ASCII characters are composed together. However, in UTF-8 mode it is a problem, e.g., for the Greek language, where one sometimes needs to put an accent on the letter alpha. The solution is either to avoid the use of UTF-8, or to install the X window system that doesn't have this limitation in its input handling.

  • For Chinese, Japanese, Korean and some other languages, the Linux console cannot be configured to display the needed characters. Users who need such languages should install the X Window System, fonts that cover the necessary character ranges, and the proper input method (e.g., SCIM, it supports a wide variety of languages).

[Note]

Note

The /etc/sysconfig/console file only controls the Linux text console localization. It has nothing to do with setting the proper keyboard layout and terminal fonts in the X Window System, with ssh sessions or with a serial console. In such situations, limitations mentioned in the last two list items above do not apply.

7.11.2. Systemd

This section discusses how to configure the systemd-vconsole-setup system service, which configures the virtual console font and console keymap.

The systemd-vconsole-setup service reads the /etc/vconsole.conf file for configuration information. Decide which keymap and screen font will be used. Various language-specific HOWTOs can also help with this, see http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/HOWTO-INDEX/other-lang.html. Examine localectl list-keymaps output for a list of valid console keymaps. Look in /usr/share/consolefonts directory for valid screen fonts.

The /etc/vconsole.conf file should contain lines of the form: VARIABLE="value". The following variables are recognized:

KEYMAP

This variable specifies the key mapping table for the keyboard. If unset, it defaults to us.

KEYMAP_TOGGLE

This variable can be used to configure a second toggle keymap and is unset by default.

FONT

This variable specifies the font used by the virtual console.

FONT_MAP

This variable specifies the console map to be used.

FONT_UNIMAP

This variable specifies the unicode font map.

An example for a German keyboard and console is given below:

cat > /etc/vconsole.conf << "EOF"
KEYMAP=de-latin1
FONT=Lat2-Terminus16
EOF

You can change KEYMAP value at runtime by using the localectl utility:

localectl set-keymap MAP
[Note]

Note

Please note that localectl command can be used only on a system booted with Systemd.