So, it’s junior year of college and I’m taking Elementary Russian. Most (if not all) of the homework is done online, and of course, requires typing. On Windows, adding a Russian phonetic isn’t a problem – it’s just a couple clicks away in the Windows settings.

That’s great and all, but, I like to use Linux on my main machine which means dealing with X11 and friends for changing the keymaps. Surprisingly, it’s not all that bad. This is just documentation for future travelers that need to be able to switch between keyboard layouts to type in other languages and be able to toggle back and forth.

The plus side is that most distributions should come with a wide variety of keymaps, so you shouldn’t have to download or install anything to do this. All you should need to do is:

setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:alt_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll,compose:menu -layout 'us,ru' -variant ',phonetic_winkeys'

This sets up X11 to use <Alt>+<Shift> to toggle your keymaps and display the current status on the Scroll Lock or Compose key of your keyboard.

For bonus points, set up an i3 (or other WM) binding to run that command when you want to reset your bindings easily after a reboot.