Saturday, February 26, 2011

Using Colemak Keyboard in Ubuntu, an Alternative to QWERTY Layout

Colemak is a popular alternative to QWERTY layout. Will we be switching to Colemak in the next few years? This is what the inventors or Colemak are saying.
  • The QWERTY layout was designed in the 19th century to allow typewriter salesmen to easily type the word "typewriter" and to prevent typebars from sticking. We've been stuck with QWERTY ever since.
  • Colemak is a modern alternative to the QWERTY and Dvorak layouts. It is designed for efficient and ergonomic touch typing in English.
  • Learning Colemak is a one-time investment that will allow you to enjoy faster and pain-free typing for the rest of your life. Colemak is now the 3rd most popular keyboard layout for touch typing in English, after QWERTY and Dvorak. 
Other than PCs, Windows and Linux, Colemak is available on Google Android and iPhone devices since 2009.

  • Ergonomic and comfortable – Your fingers on QWERTY move 2.2x more than on Colemak. QWERTY has 16x more same hand row jumping than Colemak. There are 35x more words you can type using only the home row on Colemak.
  • Easy to learn – Allows easy transition from QWERTY. Only 2 keys move between hands. Many common shortcuts (including Ctrl+Z/X/C/V) remain the same. Typing lessons available.
  • Fast – Most of the typing is done on the strongest and fastest fingers. Low same-finger ratio.
  • Multilingual – Allows to type in over 40 languages and to type various symbols, e.g. "pâté", "mañana", €, em-dash, non-breaking space.
  • Free – Free software released under the public domain. You don't have to buy a new keyboard, just install a program.
Colemak in Ubuntu

Switching to Colemak layout in Ubuntu is as easy as running a single command in your Terminal under Applications > Accessories sub-menu:

setxkbmap us -variant colemak

And you'll be ready to use the Colemak layout with your existing QWERTY keyboard. If you need to revert to your previous layout, run this command:

setxkbmap us -variant

If you wan't to learn Colemak in Ubuntu, you can try KTouch Typing Tutor. Install it:

sudo apt-get install ktouch

Then all you need to do is to change the keyboard layout from KTouch Settings > Keyboard Layouts to Colemak. You can find Colemak lessons under Training > Default Lectures > Colemak.

You can find Colemak FAQ's here.

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