Inputrc deals with the mapping of the keyboard for certain 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 info bashNode: Readline Init file as well as info readline. There is a lot that can be done with this one rc file.

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). If you want your system to use both, or don't want 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 can not be on the same line as commands.

If you will create an .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. Then you can just copy that file to /etc/inputrc and the home directory of any user already existing in the system, including root, that needs a private version of the file. Be sure 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

# 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

# End /etc/inputrc