Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Colby W. colbyw at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 10:35:05 MDT 2007

Hash: SHA512

On 9/27/07, Kenneth Burgener <kenneth at mail1.ttak.org> wrote:
> Hello all,
> I have recently decided that I would like to invest the time in learning
> the Dvorak keyboard layout, to help reduce such things as Carpal Tunnel
> Syndrome.  I am curious to find out who here uses the Dvorak keyboard,
> and what tips and tricks they have found to make the switch easier?

Good for you. The Dvorak layout has saved me from pain and loss of a
couple fingers. :)

> The issues I have stumbled upon are:
> 1. Solutions needed for both Windows and Linux environments.  I live in
> both a Windows and Linux world so it is important to find solutions for
> the following problems that work in both.

Both OS's have the Dvorak layout available. Go to the International
settings for either to add keyboard layouts. A quick way to change in
Linux is

setxkbmap -rules xfree86 -model pc105 -layout dvorak -variant basic
setxkbmap -rules xfree86 -model pc105 -layout us -variant basic

or just

setxkbmap -layout [us|dvorak]

> 2. Lack of keyboards.  The few Dvorak keyboards I have found are all
> $100+, and I have yet to find an "ergonomic" shaped Dvorak keyboard.
> The most common Dvorak keyboard I have found is the TypeMatrix  2030,
> but it is not ergonomic.  For now I have settled upon using Windows
> "Local - Dvorak" feature, and Linux alias/xmodmap/loadkeys solutions I
> have found.

Don't buy a new keyboard relabeled for Dvorak, just change the layout.

> 3. Location based keys: Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo or Vi's 'hjkl'.  Vi's 'hjkl'
> movement keys are no much of an issue for me, as I use the arrow keys
> provided on all modern keyboards, but for the die hard Vi purists, this
> may be a rather irritating point.  For me Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo being the
> "ZXCV" positions is very convenient, especially since they are one
> handed, and you can use the mouse while performing these actions.
> Switching to Dvorak breaks this convenience.  Any one familiar with a
> good solution?

This is user-dependent. Some people remap cut/copy/paste, others (like
myself) use the same key combinations (ctrl-x; ctrl-c; etc.). The same
is true for vim.

>  I have also heard
> of a Programming Dvorak layout.  Anyone had any experience with these
> layouts?

Can't help you there.

> My final comment is when I refer to an "ergonomic" style keyboard, I
> don't just mean one that "bumps" out.  I have also seen "separated
> halves" style keyboards, which I think work as well.  Anything to give
> more distance between the two hands.

The Dvorak layout is inherently "ergonomic." The stresses associated
with using the Qwerty layout are significantly reduced even on
straight/standard keyboards.

 --- Colby Williams
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