Ubuntu – Permanent xmodmap in Ubuntu 13.04


I cannot make xmodmap run on login in Ubuntu 13.04. I have searched around, including in askubuntu and all answers I found do not work.

I have a file named .Xmodmap in my home folder which contains the desired mappings. If I run it manually it works fine, so there is no error there. In order to make it run on startup, I have tried:

  1. Using various .xinitrc containing one of the following commands:

    • xmodmap .Xmodmap
    • xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap
    • /usr/bin/xmodmap /home/NAME/.Xmodmap
    • if [ -s ~/.Xmodmap ]; then
      xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap
  2. Using .Xresources instead of .xinitrc with the same variations.

  3. Setting it as a startup application.

None of the above works in Ubuntu 13.04 (64-bit). I also saw a few ideas about globally changing the keyboard mappings, but most of them were not applicable in Ubuntu 13.04 (i.e. the corresponding files did not exist where specified) and I prefer not to touch the global settings anyway.

Best Answer

  • Ubuntu no longer uses xmodmap, but instead uses xkb (as far as I understand, this facilitates per-window keyboard layouts, among other things).

    The system-wide map files are in


    The maps appears to be loaded hierarchically, with the pc map as the root, and whatever language (e.g. en) as a child of the root.

    In my particular case, I physically swapped Page Up with Home and Page Down with End on my keyboard, so I very crudely made changes to the system-wide pc map, as follows:

     key <HOME> {    [  Prior        ]   };
     key <PGUP> {    [  Home         ]   };
     key  <END> {    [  Next         ]   };
     key <PGDN> {    [  End          ]   };

    NOTE: To force Xorg to use your new keyboard map, you may have to remove the existing pre-compiled maps (*.xkm) in


    and then restart Xorg.

    There are various resources on xkb, but this one is related to Ubuntu.