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General HOWTO:

See The Linux Cyrillic HOWTO (a bit obsoleted).

Более новая русская версия The Linux Cyrillic HOWTO ведётся Евгением Балдиным.


The Linux console driver is quite a flexible piece of software. It is capable of changing fonts as well as keyboard layouts. To achieve it, you'll need the kbd package. Both RedHat and Slackware install kbd as part of a system.

The kbd package contains keyboard control utilities as well as a big collection of fonts and keyboard layouts.

Cyrillic setup with kbd usually involves two things:

  1. Screen font setup. This is performed by the setfont program. The fonts files are located in /usr/lib/kbd/consolefonts. NOTE: Never run the setfont program under X because it will hang your system. This is because it works with low-level video card calls which X doesn't like.
  2. Load the appropriate keyboard layout with the loadkeys program.

This script sets up the Cyrillic mode for Linux console (kbd package):

 loadkeys ru1 setfont Cyr_a8x16 mapscrn koi2alt echo -ne "\033(K" echo "Use the right Ctrl key to switch the mode..." 

In case you use popular console-tools package:

 consolechars -f UniCyr_8x16 -m koi8-r echo -ne "\033(K" loadkeys ru1