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Bolnagari keyboard is a phonetic keymap for XKB. It is a hack, but works. It was desiged after the authors lost sanity after trying to use the phonetic keymaps available with IIIMF and compose keys and xmodmap. Its inspired by Devrom keymap available from keyman.


Bolnagri keyboard layout

Bolnagri keyboard layout in Linux


Bolnagri keymap is now included in all Gnu/Linux distributions shipping Xorg. Use keyboard selector or layout switcher in preferences,Refer usage below.

Upstream for Bolnagri is maintained in IndLinux svn Bolnagri map, copy of same is applied in in map of xkeyboard-config

Old releases
Bolnagri-in tarball (137KB)
Old bolnagri tarball (29KB)
deb package

Use Bolnagri-in if using any distro like Debian Etch, Fedora Code 6/7, Ubuntu/Kubuntu 7.04, Suse 10.2, Mandrake 2007 etc.
Fedora Core 8, *buntu 7.10, Debian lenny/sid, Mandriva 2008 etc have bolnagri by default. Select India - Hindi BolNagri in keyboard layout selection



  1. tar zxvf bolnagri-in.tgz
  2. cd bolnagri-in
  3. ./

Bolnagri old tarball

  1. tar zxvf bolnagri.tar.gz
  2. cd bolnagri
  3. ./

Prebuilt packages Deb package

  1. dpkg -i bolnagri_0.1_noarch.deb



Bolnagri-in is enhancment of Indic XKB map (in) available in X windows. To overcome the difficulties in using old bolnagri scheme, the map has been included in the main Indic XKB map as a varaint, avoiding the need of installation in future as the new map becomes part of all future distributions.


Select Applications -> System Tools -> System Settings -> Keyboard
In Keyboard Window, Click on Layout Settings.
In Layout tab, Click on + Button and select from Choose a layout Tab as "Hindi(Bolnagri)".
Click on Add button.
Then You will find your Bolnagri keyboard layout there.
You can assign group switching keys & level3 switchers other than the default (Alt+Shift, Right-Alt).

By default vowels (a,i,e,u,o) give vowel signs. For full vowels use 'Right Alt' (also called AltGr) (or any other chosen level3 key).
Once bolnagri selected consonants and vowel matras could be typed by default.
To type vowels, level3 key is to be used (default - Right Alt).
For इ उ ए ओ   use Right Alt +key
 eg. ओ - RightAlt + o 
For ई ऊ ऐ औ  use Shift + Ralt + key
 eg. औ - Shift+ Right Alt + o
You can also assign some other key instead of AltGr for level3.

Old Bolnagri
Copy Bolnagri.desktop, English.desktop entries avialable in /usr/share/doc/bolnagri to ur ~/Desktop dir. These are app launchers which will switch layout between bolnagri & english. $ cp /usr/share/doc/bolnagri/*.desktop ~/Desktop

This will get two icons on desktop, same can be dragged onto the panel & activated from there by clicking once. To type using

Or from terminal issue following commands

  • setxkbmap -layout 'bolnagri_matras, bolnagri_vowels, us' -option grp:caps_toggle

Use caps to toggle between matra or vowel sign mode & swars or full vowel mode and English mode.

Refer to image below to learn the layout. Most of the keys are phonetically mapped with exception of few characters. Bolnagri README (also contained in the package )

Use capslock to toggle between Matra mode where you get all the vowel signs or matras and Vowel Mode to get Independent Vowels/Swars.

The 'bolnagri_layout.png' Image provided shows the visual layout. It is in the following format: shifted in normal position, shifted in capslock position normal position(without shift), capslock position(without shift)

1) All consonants appear in both the modes. 2) ZWNJ(q in both modes) is used after consonant+halanth (eg:ka+halanth+ZWNJ) in order to prevent the next consonant from joing this consonant to form a conjunct. 3) The characters are mostly phonetically place, but due to the shortcomings of XKB, certain characters are placed elsewhere. The placements:

                TA & THA in f & F.
                DA & DHA in v & V.

4) To form samyuktakshars, use x in both modes. eg: To get 'pakka', type p+k+x+k+a

Examples: 'ka' - k 'kha' - K 'k' - k+x (pure consonant k, ie., with halanth) ksha - k+x+S tra - t+x+r jna or gya - j+x+Y nukta - shift period in normal mode Devnagari abbreviation sign - shift comma in normal mode bindi - single qoute chandrabindi - tilde Independent vowels:

       a vowel - a in capslock mode
       aa or A vowel - shift a in capslock mode


Please mail comments/suggestions to one of following

ravikant at
pramodr at
karunakar at indlinux org