Language, Locale & Keyboard settings FAQ

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Q: How do I start Knoppix in other languages?

A: At the boot prompt, enter a suitable LANG cheat code:

knoppix lang=ch|cn|de|da|es|fr|it|nl|pl|ru|sk|tr|tw|us

The LANG cheat code changes the locale, which includes the language, keyboard, timezone and other local settings. For example, if you type lang=fr, Knoppix will boot in French language, with the French keyboard layout and set the French timezone, among other things.

Q: Which languages do all two-letter codes refer to?

A: Most of the time the LANG cheat code is a country/territory code. You may recognise it as the top-level domain country codes on the internet. This document shows you what the country codes mean: iso-3166 country codes

Q: Where is the complete list of language cheat codes?

At the boot prompt, press F3 to view a list of LANG cheat codes. There is also a list on the CD. This can be found at /KNOPPIX/knoppix-cheatcodes.txt.

Note that the above lists are not complete. By looking at the autoconfig file, Knoppix will actually accept the following additional LANG cheat codes:

knoppix lang = be|bg|cz|dk|fi|hu|il|ie|ja|sl|uk


  • cs is also acceptedin place of cz (Czech)
  • da is also accepted in place of dk (Denmark)
  • he (Hebrew) is also accepted in place of il (Israel)
  • sl means Slovenia although the country code is si
  • uk means Great Britain although the country code is gb.

Q: My cheat code was accepted, the keyboard and locale settings match the language I want but menus are still in English.

A: Knoppix includes locale files for many places, but only a small number of language packs (which provide the text for the kde menus). For example, if you enter the cheat code lang=cn, Knoppix will start with all the locale settings for China but menus will still be in English. The DVD edition has a much larger set of language packs. For the CD version, you can download and install additional language packs (see below).

Q: I tried to enter a Cheat Code but the letters on the screen are not the same as what I typed. I cannot type out the correct cheat code. (Or I get a funny symbol instead of "=")

A: Most likely you are using a different keyboard from what Knoppix is expecting. At boot time the German Knoppix version expects a German keyboard, the English version expects a US keyboard.

See keyboard layouts for information on different keyboard layouts.

Note where the characters you want are on the US keyboard (or German keyboard if you are using the German Knoppix version) and then press the matching key. If you are having problems looking up keyboard layouts, the differences between various keyboard layouts are, typically:

  • y and z: these are swapped
  • = sign: for US this is the last key before backspace. For German and many continental keyboards of the QWERTZ type, this is usually shift-0.

Q: How do I select a keyboard layout at boot time?

A: If you are use the LANG cheat code, the keyboard will be changed to match the country or locale you selected. If you want a different keyboard setting use the keyboard and xkeyboard cheat code, for example:

knoppix lang=us keyboard=de, xkeyboard=de

Q: How do I change the language/locale after boot?

  • From the K-menu launch Control Center.
  • Go to Regional and Accessibility -> Country/Region & Language.
  • Select your Country, add the language you want. You can also change the currency symbol, date format and other locale settings here.
  • Click Apply. For most applications, you have to close and relaunch the application for the changes to take effect.

Q: How do I change the keyboard layout after boot?

  • From the K-menu launch Control Center.
  • Go to Regional and Accessibility -> Keyboard Layouts.
  • Check Enable Keyboard Layouts if not already checked.
  • Select from the list of available layouts and click Add.
  • The selected Active Layouts are now in the right column. If there is more than one layout, click up and down arrows to move the layout you want to be default to the top. You can also remove layouts you do not want. Select the layout variant you want and the keyboard model if applicable.
  • Click Apply.

You can see a country flag in the panel at the lower right of the screen. This represents the active keyboard that is currently in use. You can click on the flag to cycle through the various active keyboard layouts which you have selected above.

Q: I am using the English version but still some programs launch in German!

For some reason the default locale of the English Knoppix version is still set to de_De@euro (German) so some programs still open up in German.

Examples where this has been known to happen are: System -> File Manager - Super User Mode and Settings -> Kuser. The programs still launch in German even after though the Regional settings in the Kde Control Center are set to English.

To correct this, edit the file /etc/default/locale. Change the line LANG=de_De@euro to LANG=C or LANG=en_US.

Q: How do I add additional languages which are not included on the CD?

First ensure that the locale you want has been generated. Do:

 dpkg-reconfigure locales

Scroll down the list and ensure the locale you want has been checked. Select OK. Knoppix may take a while to generate all the selected locales.

Next, you need to download KDE the internationalization file for the language you want from a Debian repository. These files are named kde-i18n-*, for example kde-i18n-pt is Portugese. You can do this by launching synaptic from a root shell. Reload the repository information, then search for "i18n" to view a list of available kde-i18n files. Mark for installation and then click Apply.

Alternatively, if you know the name of the file, you can also use apt-get. This is an example of how to download and install the Hungarian internationalization file:

apt-get install kde-i18n-hu

After the i18n file has been installed, launch KDE Control Center and follow the procedure in Q.7 above. The language you just installed will show up in the drop-down list of available languages. Select it and close Control Center. The KDE menus will now be in the language you want.

Note that the DVD version includes many more language packs.

Q: How do I enable East Asian languages?

work in progress

Q: After setting locale and keyboard, do I have to do this every session?

If you create a Persistent Disk Image and load it at the next boot, your settings will be reloaded and the changes you have made will still be in effect. You do not need to add the language or keyboard cheat codes or make changes in the Control Center.