Keyboard Shortcuts in Linux: Success!

Fingers on KeyboardI’m really psyched, because, after some effort, I found a way to assign keyboard shortcuts in Ubuntu 7.1. Now, I can launch my favorite programs — Firefox, GIMP, etc — with one swift keystroke, no mousing required. This same trick works both on my laptop with Ubuntu 7.1 and on my CloudBook with gOS (which is based on Ubuntu anyway). The instructions I found online yesterday, which suggested using a program called XBindKeys to create shortcuts, didn’t work for me. However, today, I found another site called which explains how to use a feature of the Gnome desktop to configure up to 12 keyboard shortcuts. Why only 12? I’m not sure, but that’s probably more than enough. I’ve already assigned CTRL+ALT+s to open Firefox, CTRL+ALT+m to open my e-mail program, and CTRL+ALT+f to open my FTP software. Here’s how you can create your own keyboard shortcuts in Linux. One Caveat: These instructions assume that you’re running Gnome, the default desktop manager of Ubuntu Linux and the CloudBook’s gOS.

  1. Open a terminal window. In Ubuntu, you can open a terminal window by selecting Accessories -> Terminal from the Application menu.
  2. Enter gconf-editor at the command prompt. The Configuration Editor application opens in its own window.Gconf Editor Launch
  3. Open folder apps->metacity->keybinding_commands
  4. Double click run_command_1 (or 2 -12 if this isn’t your first shortcut). A dialog box appears.
  5. Enter the command you wish to execute in the Value field (ex: firefox) and click Ok.Assign Keybinding Command in Gnome
  6. Open folder apps->metacity->global_keybindings
  7. Double click run_command_1 (or 2-12). A dialog box appears.
  8. Enter the key combination you wish to use in the Value field and click Ok. Put brackets around the names of modifier keys like <Control>,<Alt>,and<Shift>. For example, the key combination CTRL+ALT+s is written as <Control><Alt>s.Enter Your Keystroke in Gnome
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. ikkefc3 Says:

    I use ALT+F2 in ubuntu to open a program (works also in XFCE and KDE). If you type a couple of letters, it wil autocompete the name of the program.

  2. Ilya Ash Says:

    Do you know, that you could use curlftpfs instead of ftp-client — it just simply mount any of your ftps in /media/ as all of your local file systems.

  3. ArtInvent Says:

    You can also just use Nautilus, and the remote ftp directory appears in the tree view just like a local disk or folder! Open Nautilus – File | Connect to Server and fill in the info for your ftp. I haven’t used WSFTP in months since I discovered this. (There are options to do the same for other remote entities like SSH connections, Samba Windows shares, etc.)

  4. Greg Says:

    I use Fluxbox on AntiX Linux. Setting up keyboard shortcuts is a no-brainer. I really like it. Swift, and efficient system. No need for a new computer now!!

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