7.7. Creating the /etc/inputrc File

The /etc/inputrc file deals with mapping the keyboard for specific situations. This file is the start-up file used by Readline, the input-related library used by Bash and most other shells.

For more information, see the bash info page, section Readline Init File. The readline info page is also a good source of information.

Global values are set in /etc/inputrc. Personal user values are set in ~/.inputrc. The ~/.inputrc file will override the global settings file. A later page sets up Bash to use /etc/inputrc if there is no .inputrc for a user when /etc/profile is read (usually at login). To make the system use both, or to negate global keyboard handling, it is a good idea to place a default .inputrc into the /etc/skel directory for use with new users.

Below is a base /etc/inputrc, along with comments to explain what the various options do. Note that comments cannot be on the same line as commands.

To create the .inputrc in /etc/skel using the command below, change the command's output to /etc/skel/.inputrc and be sure to check/set permissions afterward. Copy that file to /etc/inputrc and the home directory of any user already existing on the system, including root, that needs a private version of the file. Be certain to use the -p parameter of cp to maintain permissions and be sure to change owner and group appropriately.

cat > /etc/inputrc << "EOF"
# Begin /etc/inputrc
# Modified by Chris Lynn <roryo@roryo.dynup.net>

# Make sure we don't output everything on the 1 line
set horizontal-scroll-mode Off

# Enable 8bit input
set meta-flag On 
set input-meta On

# Turns off 8th bit stripping
set convert-meta Off

# Keep the 8th bit for display
set output-meta On

# none, visible or audible
set bell-style none

# All of the following map the escape sequence of the 
# value contained inside the 1st argument to the 
# readline specific functions

"\eOd": backward-word
"\eOc": forward-word

# for linux console
"\e[1~": beginning-of-line
"\e[4~": end-of-line
"\e[5~": beginning-of-history
"\e[6~": end-of-history
"\e[3~": delete-char
"\e[2~": quoted-insert

# for xterm
"\eOH": beginning-of-line
"\eOF": end-of-line

# for Konsole
"\e[H": beginning-of-line
"\e[F": end-of-line

# End /etc/inputrc