tl;dr Remapping caps lock to control and escape on Linux

The elephant on the keyboard

Nothing good has ever come from pressing the CAPS LOCK key, either accidentally or intentionally during a heated discussion on IRC. As a long time user of Macbooks I’ve used Karabiner to improve the way my keyboard works. My most critical customization is to let the CAPS LOCK key die. Instead it will send escape if pressed alone, and control if pressed with any other key. Super nice for vim, the shell and just about anything. Recently I’ve decided to come back to the Linux desktop and I searched far and wide for a replacement for karabiner. Finally I’ve found the Interception tools.

How to get this magic sauce?

So if you head over to Interception tools and install it, and while you’re there you should also grab the Dual Function Keys plugin.

First we create a systemd service in /etc/systemd/system/udevmon.service

[Unit]
Description=udevmon
Wants=systemd-udev-settle.service
After=systemd-udev-settle.service

[Service]
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/udevmon -c /etc/udevmon.yaml
Nice=-20

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Note that the udevmon location might vary depending on how you installed it.

Then we should define the referenced /etc/udevmon.yaml

- JOB: "intercept -g `DEVNODE | dual-function-keys -c /etc/builtin-keyboard-modifications.yaml | uinput -d `DEVNODE"
  DEVICE:
    NAME: "Apple Inc. Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad"
    EVENTS:
      EV_KEY: [KEY_CAPSLOCK]

We’re basically saying whenever my apple keyboard is sending events, we hijack the KEY_CAPSLOCK and do whatever is defined in /etc/builtin-keyboard-modifications.yaml. So you might want to run something similar to the following to find the name of your keyboard:

sudo uinput -p -d /dev/input/by-id/X

Where ‘X’ is whatever seems to be your keyboard. There can be a bunch of different ones laying around so make sure that it has at least the KEY_CAPSLOCK which we want to remap.

When that’s all done we can finally create the actual mapping in /etc/builtin-keyboard-modifications.yaml

TIMING:
  TAP_MILLISEC: 200
  DOUBLE_TAP_MILLISEC: 150

MAPPINGS:
  - KEY: KEY_CAPSLOCK
    TAP: KEY_ESC
    HOLD: KEY_LEFTCTRL

Then all we need is a quick systemctl enable udevmon.service and a tiny systemctl enable udevmon.service and bobs your uncle! :D

These tools are crazy powerful and more examples can be found over here