A Rational International Keyboard Layout for the Latin Script and its Application to Polish

The proposed layout is depicted below. The rationale behind this proposition is presented in the following article (PDF). The layout comprises the full set of Polish characters as well as 14 dead accents (top row of the keyboard) allowing to access practically all accented characters used in European languages, a comprehensive set of quotation marks and dashes, selected writing symbols. An important feature is the use of symbols engraved on the physical keyboard as mnemonics.

the proposed layout

New (2014/11/29): a Windows version!


Ubuntu 14.04 (trusty) and 13.10 (saucy)

On these systems the definition is already present in the standard package, but the method for activating “exotic” layouts (see below) has changed with respect to previous versions of Gnome.

Ubuntu 13.04 (raring), 12.04 (precise), 11.10 (oneiric), Debian wheezy, and other systems with xkeyboard-config/xkb-data 2.3 or newer

On these systems the definition is already present in the standard package, so it is enough to activate it. Unfortunately, the so called progress always goes simultaneously in both directions, and so activating it is harder than it used to be. Our keyboard layout has been admitted to the “exotic” layouts section, which are not by default shown by GNOME’s layout selection tool. The method to select our layout depends on the environment used:

Ubuntu 11.04 (natty) / 10.10 (maverick) / 10.04 (lucid) / 9.10 (karmic) / 9.04 (jaunty)

  1. Download the patch file mwplkeyb.ubuntu9.04.diff
  2. In a terminal change directory to /usr/share/X11/xkb/:
    cd /usr/share/X11/xkb/
  3. Apply the downloaded patch using the patch command (contained in the package «patch»):
    sudo patch -b -p1 < ...path/to/mwplkeyb.ubuntu9.04.diff
    (For safety you can start with a test run:
    patch --dry-run -b -p1 < ...path/to/mwplkeyb.ubuntu9.04.diff
    and only if it reports that the whole of the patch can be applied successfully run the original command. Some parts can get applied with offsets — this is normal and no reason to worry.)
  4. Activate the layout in the way specific to your graphical environment. In GNOME it’s Preferences ↦ Keyboard ↦ Layouts ↦ Add ↦ Country: Poland, Variant: «International (with dead keys)». If this variant is not present on the list, try to log out and log in again. The layout can also be activated from the command line:
    setxkbmap 'pl(intl)'
    (For a permanent effect the command would have to be included in some script initialising the X session.)

Ubuntu 8.04 (hardy) / Debian 5.0 (lenny)

  1. Download the file mwplkeyb.ubuntu8.04.diff
  2. Continue from 2. in the procedure for Ubuntu 9.04

Other distributions

One of the above methods should work in other Linux distributions. For newer distributions the version for Ubuntu 9.04 should work. A distribution is ‘newer’ if it contains the file /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml. On older systems the procedure for Ubuntu 8.04 is worth a try. On all non-Ubuntu systems we advise doing a test run with --dry-run first.


A version for Windows has been prepared by Piotr Różański (MIM UW) using the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator tool. To install, download the archive pl+intl.zip, upack, run installer. The new layout will become available in the standard system tool for selecting keyboard layouts. The file pl+intl.klc contains the source form of the definitions.