X Windows and the Dvorak Keyboard

As a system administrator, upon occasion you get a rare request. One of these crossed my desk the other day. A student asked if he could map the US keyboard over to the Dvorak key mappings. My first inclination was to tweak the “Keyboard” section of the xorg.conf file and restart X windows.

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier     "Keyboard0"
    Driver         "kbd"
    Option "XkbLayout" "dvorak"
EndSection

While this worked, there is a more elegant solution that requires no X-windows restart:

setxkbmap dvorak

When the X session ends, the keyboard mapping reverts back to what is defined in the xorg.conf file. I gleaned this information from the Arch Linux Wiki. It contains numerous tips and suggestions managing settings in your xorg.conf file. After looking at Wikipedia’s entry on the Dvorak keyboard, I see it’s possible to type 115 WPM. Nice!

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