Alt and Meta (Was: Nautilus bugs and design choices)

On Wed, Jul 10, 2002 at 04:00:11PM -0700, David Moles wrote:
> On Wed, 2002-07-10 at 04:52, Xavier Bestel wrote:
> > 
> > Shouldn't metacity use the <Meta> key (aka <Mod4>) instead, and leave
> > the <Alt> key to the apps ?
> Be nice if everyone had a separate <Meta> key, and if half the
> applications out there didn't assume that <Alt> was also <Meta>.
> (Okay, maybe not *half*. But I've had no luck remapping my 
> "Windows" key to <Meta> and having both Emacs and desktop apps
> work the way they should.)

I do not understand the problems other people have with Alt and Meta.

I have a laptop which has:
  1 Ctrl key (Control_L) and 1 Alt key (Alt_L) on the bottom left.
  1 "Windows" key (Meta_L) and 1 Menu key (Menu) on the top right 
     - both are half-size.

There is an Fn key between Ctrl and Alt. This key is a pain because I
can't do anything with it in software.
When the Fn key is held:
  Ctrl changes from Control_L to Control_R
  Alt  changes from Alt_L     to Alt_R
There are other changes because the numeric keypad overlays some of the
otherkeys. Damn laptops.

All of this works without any special effort on my part. I'm using Debian Sid
and some from Debian experimental; X is 4.1.

Most of the software I use works with Alt according to CUA standard.
The programs do not expect to receive Alt+Tab, Alt+Space, and Alt+{F1-F12}
GNU Emacs uses Meta and also the prefix Esc (Esc then x is the same as M-x).
Of the programs I see calling for Meta, only XFig will accept Alt as Meta;
the rest only take Meta. No program I have seen accepts Meta as if it were

I have sawfish configured with most of the CUA bindings and no conflicts.
I use Alt+Button1Move to move windows, Alt+Button3Move to resize them and
have had no trouble. I have some non-standard bindings which nothing else
thusfar uses; such as Meta+Home to open a shell in xterm.

I have some modifications via xmodmap and XKB, but they neither cause nor
fix any problems. Via XKB I have rid myself of the CapsLock key and via
xmodmap I have replaced it with Meta; I rarely use it still. Via xmodmap
I have  changed Alt_R (which I get by pressing Fn and Alt simultaneously)
to Multi_key; this lets me easily type things like my last name - Merchán.

The laptop is certainly less than ideal. I would like Ctrl and Alt to also
be under my right hand. I would like the "Windows" key and the Menu key to
be among them as on a full-size keyboard. Oh well, it's an old laptop and
I didn't worry about such things when I bought it. (I'd like all my mouse
buttons rather than chording for Button2 ;-)

So what are the troubles that people are having? What is causing them?
Is it particular apps? Some distribution? X? Bad hardware?

The only potential conflicts I've seen are for assigning keycombos to
workspace switching, viewport moving, and raising and lowering windows.
Everything else works pretty much like Windows which doesn't have those

Greg Merchan

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