Shared keybindings

Andrew J. Montalenti ajm at
Tue Aug 16 06:22:24 EEST 2005

The Super_L (Windows) key can be used as a modifier (it shows up as such
in xmodmap for me), but GNOME doesn't seem to take advantage of it.  In
the Keyboard Shortcuts preference panel, I cannot use Super_L as a
modifier, but only as a key.  It probably would be useful if Super_L
were generally made available as a modifier, so that one could use
Super_L exclusively for WM bindings, for example.

I do agree with you that keybinding conflicts are quite annoying, what
with our various levels of keybindings nowadays (XServer, WM,
Application, and Console).  It would be nice to make distinctions so as
not to confuse users.

However, I wouldn't exactly say Mac OS has "solved" this problem.
Keybinding conflicts still exist there.  For instance, imagine a program
which makes use of F9, F10, and F11 (Expose's keys).  Any program that
did has had to patch itself to avoid the conflict[1].  Ultimately, in
any complex system, we're gonna have conflicts eventually.  I think the
biggest source of problems nowadays is between the WM and application,
so it probably wouldn't be a bad idea for WMs to make available their
bound hotkeys to application developers (so that thoughtful developers
could replace vital hotkeys that are in conflict with sane
alternatives).  As for console/vte conflicts, I assume most people who
are dropping into the console know why "CTRL+C" can't be used for Copy
anyway (and furthermore, they'll probably use primary selection
anyhow ;-)).


Andrew J. Montalenti

On Mon, 2005-08-15 at 21:01 +0200, Claes at work wrote:
> There is a long thread at about keybinding conflicts:
> One issue that is mentioned is that
> traditional unix keybindings conflict with keybindings with
> Windows heritage.
> Mac OS X has solved this issue well by using the Command key instead of 
> the Control key. So to copy you press Command-C rather than Control-C. 
> This way there is no conflict. (Well perhaps Mac never had the problem to 
> begin with but nonetheless this conflict does not exist on Mac).
> On PC keyboards the Win key sits in about the same position as the Command
> key does on Mac keyboards.
> There is a wiki page on shared keybindings here:
> It refers to 
> a spreadsheet with Gnome/KDE/Mozilla/OpenOffice keybindings listed:
> This link is broken,
> but works.
> Is it realistic to imagine a migration to something similar for the
> major toolkits
> and desktop environments in the Linux universe? 
> I am thinking LONG TERM now. 
> Currently at least the following conflicts exist:
> o Console applications, for working with the shell for example, can not use 
> the same keybindings as other applications since the Control-C, Control-Z etc
> already have a special meaning for the shell.
> o Application keybindings can conflict with window manager keybindings
> Using different modifier keys for different contexts would be a
> possible way to avoid conflicts. Such a migration would also be a good
> opportunity
> to resolve other differences that exist. For example "Redo", "Find next match", 
> "Find and replace", "Add bookmark", "Redraw" differs today, according
> to the above document.
> But this means that some keybindings have to change
> modifier key,  and it only makes sense if it can be implemented
> generally. Of course it
> also needs to be communicated to and accepted by users. Not easy - is
> it even possible?
> Claes
> _______________________________________________
> xdg mailing list
> xdg at

More information about the xdg mailing list