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      When I toyed with alternate layouts, Colemak was my favorite. Keeping ZXCVB intact is essential for undo/cut/copy/paste/bold shortcuts.

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        Ya I’ve been on Colemak for about two years now (I think?) and I’ve liked it so far. I don’t think I type faster, necessarily, but I do think I can type for longer without strain. Plus, it comes with most modern Linux distributions (including Arch Linux).

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          It’s also installed almost everywhere by default. In X.org, I’ve even got Czech and Polish AltGr variants of it.

          Swap Ctrl with Caps Lock and you’ve got a pretty comfy layout.

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            This is my setup; dvorak, with swapped ctrl and caps lock (plus swapped alt and super - I almost never use alt, yet it takes up the prime real estate right next to space).

            In conjunction with using ctrl+c instead of esc to enter normal mode in vim, I’m a pretty happy camper.

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          I’ve read many people say that dvorak was fine for the vim movement keys.

          And as for the keycaps, I’m not sure I see the problem, why not just use a blank keyboard and switch at will?

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            Although I am in theory capable of typing without looking at the keys, in practice I do a lot of key stabbing as well. And a lot of one handed typing as well. I’ve practiced this some in the dark, and it’s no fun. Definitely not interested in a blank keyboard.

            Anyway, same experience as the author. Learned dvorak because there were people who didn’t know dvorak, used it for a while, then found I had trouble using a qwerty keyboard. Now I just use qwerty full time, but go back and practice dvorak for a week or so at a time to maintain the skill in case I ever have a compelling reason to switch.

            I like dvorak for English, but find it substantially more annoying for code. And it’s a disaster for passwords. I usually set up hotkeys so I can quickly change on the fly depending on what and how much I’m typing.

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              I love Dvorak for code! Having -_ and =+ much closer is so convenient.

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                More than { [ ] }?

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                  For sure, think about where it’s now positioned. Typing …) {… is so easy when ) and { are side by side. And for code that doesn’t use egyptian braces, )<enter>{ is easier for me too. When I hit enter with my pinky, and follow up with { with my middle finger, that’s natural. But trying to squeeze my middle finger into the QWERTY location for { while my pinky is still on enter totally sucks.

                  Meanwhile -_=+ are all typed in line with other words (i.e. variable names). And - and _ are frequently part of filenames and variables, so it’s great that they’re closest to the letter keys.

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                I like dvorak for English, but find it substantially more annoying for code.

                Exactly! If I were a novelist I would probably just continue using Dvorak.

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                  in practice I do a lot of key stabbing as well

                  I recently bought a laptop with a Swiss(?) keyboard layout. (It really is a monstrosity with up to five characters on one key). I thought I wouldn’t need to look at the keys at all and I could just use my preferred keymap, but I’ve been caught ought a few times. I’m just about used to it now, though.

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                  When I am typing commands into a production machine I feel like it is only responsible of me to use a properly labelled keyboard.

                  This is really important when you’re on your last ssh password/smartcard PIN attempt, because you can go slow and look at what you’re doing.

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                    I got a blank keyboard, and I must admit that I still look at it from time to time. like for numbers, or b/v, u/i… I only do so when I start thinking “OMG this is a password, don’t get it wrong!”

                    Having a blank keyboard doesn’t stop you from looking at your hands. It only disappoint you when you do.

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                      As a happy Dvorak user I’d have to say there are better fixes to that problem. Copy it from your password manager? (You use one, right?) Type it into somewhere else, and cut and paste? Or use the keyboard viewer? (Ok that one is macOS specific, perhaps.)

                      Specifically re: “typing commands into prod machines” I don’t buy the argument. Commands generally don’t take effect until you hit ENTER and until then you’ve got all the time you need to review what you’ve typed in. Some programs do prompt for yes/no without waiting for Enter but it’s not like Dvorak or Qwerty’s y or n keys have a common location in either layout, so I don’t really see that as an issue either.

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                        Yes, the “production machines” argument is a strange one. I’d imagine it would only be an issue on a Windows system (if you’re logging in via ssh it’s immaterial) and then it would be fairly obvious quite quickly that the keyboard map is wrong. And if the keyboard map is wrong in the Dvorak vs QWERTY sense you’d quickly realise you’re typing gibberish. Or so I’d think?

                        Ignoring the whole issue of “you shouldn’t be logging in to a production machine to make changes”…

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                        In this case, I find the homing keys, reorient myself, and type whatever I need to type. (Or just use a password manager & paste). Haven’t mistyped a password in years, and I’m using Dvorak with blanks.

                        Homing keys are there for a reason.

                        Labels are only necessary when you don’t touch type. If you do, they serve no useful purpose.

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                        I’ve read many people say that dvorak was fine for the vim movement keys.

                        Dvorak is fine for Vim movement keys, but not as nearly as nice as Qwerty.

                        And as for the keycaps, I’m not sure I see the problem, why not just use a blank keyboard and switch at will?

                        The problem is, when I’m entering a password or bash command sometimes I want to slow down and actually look at the keyboard while I’m typing. In sensitive production settings raw speed isn’t nearly as valuable as accuracy. A blank keyboard would not solve this problem :)

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                          Dvorak is fine for Vim movement keys, but not as nearly as nice as Qwerty.

                          They actually work better with Dvorak for me, because the grouping feels more logical than on qwerty to me.

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                            Likewise: vertical and horizontal movement keys separated onto different hands rather than all on the one (and interspersed) works much better for me.

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                            I hate vim movement in QWERTY. I think it’s because I’m left handed, and Dvorak puts up/down on my left pointer and middle finger. For me, it’s really hard to manipulate all four directions with my right hand quickly.

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                              Would it make sense to use AOEU for motion then (or HTNS for right handed people)? I guess doing so may open a whole can of remapping worms though?

                              That won’t help with apps that don’t support remapping but which support vi-style motion though (as they’ll expect you to hit HJKL)…

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                          I use QWERTY for the same reason I don’t heavily customize my environment: the cognitive burden of switching when I use literally any other system is too great.

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                            It takes me about 3 seconds to switch back from Dvorak to QWERTY. Am I the only one?

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                              Nope, you certainly aren’t. A common misconception is that you forget qwerty when learning dvorak. You don’t. Just like you don’t forget one song when you learn the next. You can do both.

                              In the case of keyboard layout switching the cognitive mechanism fascinates me to no end: you just tell yourself to switch from one to the other, and voila, it happens, effortlessly.

                              Another fascinating thing I noticed – when I was still attending university college and dvorak was relatively new to me – was that the mind (when on autopilot) associates layouts with contexts and habits. At school I had no problem with qwerty and usually I didn’t even notice it was qwerty (until I started to); trying dvorak felt a bit iffy. Back at home it was the opposite: couldn’t stand qwerty, i just had to use dvorak.

                              The best part about learning dvorak, other than it being the superior layout - was to take notice of how this all works in the brain. Some nights I was watching TV and all of a sudden I became aware of what was going on in my mind’s eye: it was typing. My brain was autonomously “deep learning.”

                              Recently Itook it upon myself to learn Japanese, and after about 4 days of moderately practicing hiragana and katakana, I’m noticing the same brain process more or less. Doing something else and suddenly notice that some other part of my brain is practicing how to write Japanese characters. I am in awe over the magnificence of the human brain.

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                                This is also true for keyboard layouts. I use a Kinesis Advantage ergonomic keyboard. It took me two weeks to get up to speed with it, and a little bit more to get comfortable switching back to a laptop, but now I can quite happily do either with no slowdown.

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                                No, I used Dvorak at home in the past and using QWERTY on another machine was no issue.

                                I didn’t really expect that, but there ya go.

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                                How is it hard to switch though? Every OS comes with a dvorak layout. I can type qwerty when I need to, but if I’m doing extended typing on someone else’s computer I’ll ask to switch it and it’s never been a problem.

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                                  I kind of like forcing those burdens on myself. It’s the only reason I consider picking up an alternate layout.

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                                  I got RSI with dvorak, so I switched to split keyboards (kinesis / ergodox).

                                  I also have dvorak in the firmware of my external keyboards for ease of use.

                                  Years ago dvorak was far more trouble, but this decade I get to all the systems through ssh. I haven’t had to use a qwerty-only keyboard hooked directly to a system in .. ten years or so.

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                                    Protip, if you ever need to use a TTY directly, loadkeys dvorak as root will load dvorak. It works out of the box in debian, ubuntu, and arch, but doesn’t work out of the box in raspbian.

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                                    I first got access to a computer as a child, so I never learned to type “properly”. By the time somebody did try to teach me, suppressing my bad typing habits was nearly impossible: if I forgot to do things “correctly”, it would Just Work and I might not even notice I’d slipped up.

                                    So, I switched my keyboard layout to Dvorak. I didn’t move keycaps around, although for the first week or two I kept a window open with a picture of the Dvorak layout in it, for reference. This time around, I made sure to practice hitting keys with the “correct” fingers in the “correct” positions. Each time I slipped up and went back to my old habits, I started typing gibberish, so I had immediate feedback I’d done something wrong. With regular IRC activity to motivate typing speed, I felt comfortable in Dvorak after maybe a month or so?

                                    I have no idea how fast I type in Dvorak, or how it compares to how fast I typed in QWERTY; I think pretty slowly, so as long as I type faster than that I’m fine.

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                                      I use french Dvorak variation (Bépo). There are problems, but the ones this guy yields are invalids.

                                      1. Loading a dvorak keymap is always possible as long as you use Xorg (setxbkeymap) or a linux compliant tty (loadkeys as stated in another comment).
                                      2. If you use windows, all you need to do is to download a portable keyboard custom map (PKL). You do not need any admin rights to run that.
                                      3. Regarding the physical keyboard, you do not really need one. Since you are learning a new keymap scheme, you need to learn everything from scratch. Hence, you should learn it by touchtyping. It is not going to be longer, you will just be much more effective passed the learning phase.
                                      4. Regarding software key bindings, it is not a problem as long as you can write a custom one. I honestly just wrote two bindings: one for vim, one for my wm. It took me 2 hours 6 years ago.
                                      5. Changing laptop/desktop is not a problem as long as you track your dot files in a proper CVS.
                                      6. Switching a keymap is simple as a keystroke and you will not suddently forget QWERTY. You can easily fallback to a more standart keymap in case of emergency (coworker want to use your computer, software you use rarely having specific keybindings, etc.)

                                      The real problem using an uncommon keyboard layout is something derived from point 4: you need a stable workflow. Meaning that regularly changing IDEs, OS or desktop environments will implies rewriting a custom key binding.

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                                        I loved using Dvorak for many years but in the end the symbol keys were just too different. A couple years after quitting I learned about Colemak. Today I’d recomment Colemak to someone wanting to get away from qwerty. Colemak has a lot of the home-row advantages of Dvorak and leaves the symbol keys alone! (except semicolon goes up a row because home row is too valuable)

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                                          What should be mentioned: Dvorak’s superiority in typing speed is mostly a myth. It’s based on some very weak studies and other than that personal testimonies. There’s no proper science behind it.

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                                            As of 2005, writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest alphanumerical English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. Her top speed was 212 wpm.

                                            There’s even a Guinness World Record in typing speed…

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                                            I use Colemak on an ErgoDox at work, and Qwerty on my laptop at home. I find that the different hand position of the ErgoDox helps me switch between them seamlessly. It’s like my brain knows which muscle memory to use based on my hand position.

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                                              What would be the best way to switch to Dvorak? I can’t find any keyboards with this layout, are stickers the only option?

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                                                You don’t want or need your keyboard’s physical layout to look like Dvorak - it’ll only slow you down, and confuse other people who use your computer (everyone thinks they can touch-type qwerty, but no-one actually can). Switch the keyboard layout in your OS’s keyboard settings, pull up a picture of the layout onscreen to start with, and… that’s it.

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                                                  I can’t give any useful tips on switching as I tried a few years ago but the frustration of switching after ~20 years of QWERTY was too much so I gave up after a few days.

                                                  It is possible to find keyboards with Dvorak layouts - I have a TypeMatrix that has both QWERTY and Dvorak and Kinesis sell sets for theirs. A great site for discussing input hardware is geekhack

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                                                    Forget keyboards and stickers, use a cheatsheet (on paper or screen) and type a lot.

                                                    If you make it all nice for you and label the key caps, it’ll only take you longer to learn it properly (if you ever will).

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                                                      Give yourself two weeks and under no circumstances change back during those two weeks. If you don’t heed this advice, you’ll find yourself giving up repeatedly.

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                                                        I’m trying (writing this on DVORAK), problem is that I need to work :/

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                                                          Yeah, that was what led to me starting and stopping several times over several years. It was only when a colleague and I decided to both make the switch at the same time (during a quiet period at work) that I actually succeeded.

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                                                      I wonder: Do you not customize the rest of your system nowadays? Just out of interest, what is the rest of your setup like now?

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                                                        MacOS using default terminal.app using a very minimal bash setup. I use different computers too much to make relying on customizations a habit.

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                                                        If you can type at 70 WPM on Dvorak, why on earth are you looking at the keys on a “production system”?

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                                                          Do you never want to take a moment to make sure you’re doing the right thing? I found myself slowing down for special characters, especially in situations where I wasn’t in a REPL-esque environment (resizing tmux panes, killing processes with htop, etc.)

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                                                            Looking at the keys to see if you’re typing the right thing is like looking at the light switch to see if the lights are on or looking at the brake pedal to see if the car is slowing down.

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                                                              I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. What if your A/C and stereo knobs were completely unlabeled? Sure, you could get use to their locations, but now if you could lose thousands of dollars by turning the wrong knob… wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to tell which one is which from a glance?

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                                                                The argument would make sense if terminals did not echo back what you type, but they do.

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                                                                  This may be true for most of the time, but it isn’t always the case. Entering passwords, managing tmux or Vim panes/windows, backgrounding processes, etc.

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                                                            I’d generally lean towards using ^-x ^-e to edit commands in a production system, so that I can’t e.g. accidentally hit enter on half a command.

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                                                            I can’t believe that this guy used Dvorak for 5 years and never thought of re-mapping his text editor to a more ergonomic layout. He’s either trolling or doesn’t know how to use vim as he claims.

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                                                              ? author here. At work we pair program so we share a vim config. I don’t think Qwerty users would be happy about moving away from HJKL.

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                                                                we pair program so we share a vim config

                                                                Could you elaborate on this? Do the two of you physically share one computer?

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                                                                  Do the two of you physically share one computer?

                                                                  Kind of! There’s a pool of common pairing machines that we ssh into and share our screens using tmux.

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                                                                    Cute! That explains the shared vimconfig. I’ve done the same before, but only in an interview scenario; otherwise, pairing has always been more of a euphemism for “talking about and working on the same thing at the same time”.