Use an Apple keyboard on Linux

I have to admit that I use a Mac at home as my primary workstation. I also like the Apple keyboard (the one with a cable). That keyboard is hard-wired for Macs, which means that on a PC

  • one cannot use the function keys without pressing fn
  • the tilde (in the English/International layout) is not left of the 1 key but right of the left Shift key
  • Alt and Windows are swapped (if you type blindly and ignore the labels).

The good news is that Linux comes with a hid_apple kernel driver which can “fix” all that issues. By default, that driver doesn’t change the behavior, you have to set some kernel parameters. On recent Linux distributions, all you have to do is to create a file /etc/modprobe.d/hid-apple.conf with following contents:

options hid_apple fnmode=2 iso_layout=0 swap_opt_cmd=1

I the driver is loaded in initramfs (e.g. you have an encrypted root partition, so you need to enter your password in the early boot phase), then you have to re-create the initramfs, e.g. by mkinitcpio -p linux on Arch Linux.

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