How to set up Linux (well, Xorg) for typing of áccented characters:
There is a fancy way to do this in KDE and Gnome, but I do not use those.
The basic idea is that commercial UNIX had this "compose" key on the keyboard which would be used in the pattern COMPOSE-'-e to generate "é". This is not present on PC hardware, but the functionality is still in software.
You just need to assign this compose key (or ALT_Gr key, or Multi key) to an existing key. So find the keycode of an existing key with xev, and then use xmodmap to reassign the key to "Multi_key" like so:
xmodmap -e "keycode 234 = Multi_key"