When I want to invoke a shortcut that contains Alt, only left Alt works. Holding right Alt doesn't make any difference. Examples are Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to virtual terminal 1, or Alt+s to invoke search in the Midnight Commander.

I can reproduce this using the us and hu xkb layouts and didn't try others. I use Raspbian 9.

Why is this, and how can I fix it?

  • Please don't call it "compose", this is a special function for combining base characters and diacritics. You hit one after another the Compose key (or key combination, keysym is Multi_key), then all the diacritics, then the base character. E.g. Compose, _, ", a → ǟ. – Janka Mar 31 '18 at 13:00

That's intentional.

  • The left alt key is usually mapped to modifier 1.
  • The right alt key in contrast is usually mapped to modifier 5.

You need this modifier 5 to access the fifth and sixth (+shift) level of characters mapped onto the other keys. E.g. mod5+e gives you the € sign.

You can create a custom keymap or (simpler) play with the xmodmap utility to remap single keys.

xmodmap -e "remove mod5 = ISO_Level3_Shift"

xmodmap -e "add mod1 = ISO_Level3_Shift"

  • 1
    "this is intentional" -> I don't think this is the case with a US keyboard configuration; both my Alts perform the same way (even though on this laptop the right one is marked 'Alt Gr', i.e., presumably could be assigned a different code). – goldilocks Mar 31 '18 at 12:48
  • 1
    The number of weird European keyboard layouts is endless, even if the OP wrote he tried the us layout, I think there were still remains of the hungarian mapping in use. This whole X11 keymap business is very crude. – Janka Mar 31 '18 at 12:50

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