Robert Downes wrote:

I use the US Dvorak keyboard layout, and I find it very difficult to type in single user mode (when installing world, for example), because single user mode uses the QWERTY keyboard layout, and does not seem to pay any attention to kbdmap (I think that's the command name - the one with the interactive keymap chooser).

Someone suggested that it's possible to compile the Dvorak layout into my kernel, but how is this done, and is there an easier way of changing keyboard layout in single user mode?

Okay, made some progress here.

Finally noticed that kbdmap says, quite clearly,

    The *kbdmap* and *vidfont* utilities work only on a (virtual) console and not
    with X11.

The single user mode is not a virtual console, as virtual consoles are not permitted to run during single user mode.

However, the command-line (non-interactive) equivalent is kbdcontrol, and it seems to suffer no such limitation.

So, once in single user mode, type

mount -a

to make sure that /usr is mounted (needed because it contains the keymaps), and then type


to check that the filesystems are mounted. (Actually, you may not need all of them.)

If /usr is now showing up, type

kbdcontrol -l us.dvorak

and you will be reunited with the (cough... superior... cough) Dvorak keyboard layout.

This can be done with any of the available layout files in


However, never happy with a simple option, I wonder if there's an easy (read lazy) option... is it possible to automate this process, so that this command is run by default? (Or is that inadvisable because it requires /usr to be available, and /usr should not necessarily be available in single user mode everytime?)


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