Notes on how to switch between Dvorak and QWERTY keyboard layouts in various environments.

Also notes on my progress toward becoming a proficient Dvorak touch typist.

Mac OS X

  1. System Preferences -> International -> Input Menu.
  2. Check Dvorak and US Extended.
  3. Check "Show input menu in menu bar".
  4. Set keyboard shortcut to switch between the two to Option-Command-Space.


Temporarily switch in Xorg:

  • To Dvorak: setxkbmap dvorak
  • To QWERTY: setxkbmap us


Debian, Ubuntu

Permanent switch in Xorg:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

and say dvorak for keyboard layout.

Some HAL thing involving cp /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-keymap.fdi /etc/hal/fdi/policy/(?)


sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

Linux kernel keymap:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-data


  • Same as Xorg.
  • 'sysinstall'
  • kbdmap
  • kbdcontrol -l "us.dvorak"
  • For the console, in /etc/rc.conf: keymap="us.dvorak"
  • On FreeBSD 8: sudo cp -vi /usr/local/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-x11-input.fdi /usr/local/etc/hal/fdi/policy ; edit /usr/local/etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-x11-input.fdi and add <merge key="input.xkb.layout" type="string">dvorak</merge>.


  • Same as Xorg. (?)
  • xmodmap /usr/share/xmodmap/xmodmap.dvorak


  • 20090228: I started my Dvorak quest this week. I'm averaging 6 wpm in gtypist, and probably slower in general. After scratching off my keyboard's labels, I realized I don't properly touch type QWERTY, but I could type 80 wpm. I should try to fix my QWERTY technique too.
  • 20090229: Up to 10 wpm in gtypist.
  • 20090308: Up to 17 wpm in gtypist.
  • 20090411: Still not as fast as I used to be in QWERTY, but now I can't touch type at all in QWERTY. I'm all Dvorak.
  • 20100315: Probably faster in Dvorak than I was in QWERTY.

See also