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EDIT: I am answering my own question, after not finding a combined guide anywhere. Others, feel free to post an answer. Additionally there doesn't appear an answer illustrating the pitfalls and techniques of switching in Linux and Windows.

I work in a mixed environment of Linux, Mac and Windows systems.

I prefer to work in Dvorak. How do I switch to the Dvorak keyboard layout on these various systems?

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Downvoters please leave comments –  William May 22 '13 at 3:48
My initial reaction was to downvote because the question does not show any research attempts of the OP. But then it turns out that the OP is also the one giving the answer, which is fine by SO standards. –  Jan Doggen May 22 '13 at 7:09
But confusing. Liam, I suggest you edit the question and include a final remark pointing to your own answer. –  Jan Doggen May 22 '13 at 7:15
I agree with Jan. I see -2/+1 now, so looks like people missed the fact that you self-answered. Wording it better might help, it certainly looks like a homework question as it stands now. –  Karan May 22 '13 at 14:17
I think fattening out the main question would help. It would be an extensive edit, but talking about the scenario "I work in a mixed environment of linux, mac and windows systems, and I prefer to work in dvorak. How do i switch to dvorak on these systems" may work better. Right now it looks kinda bare. –  Journeyman Geek May 30 '13 at 1:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted


Windows comes preinstalled with the Dvorak keyboard layout by going to Control Panel->Regional and Language Options->Languages->Details....

Windows 8 is the 1st version of Windows to support switching the keyboard layout for all open Windows. If you are attempting to switch the layout of all open windows in less then Windows 8 I advise downloading an Autohotkey script. The scripts don't need Admin rights but needs the same rights used as the other windows to work properly. Alternatively PortableKeyboardLayout I believe can work.

I use Dvorak23CapsLockQwertySwitch.zip. It is an Autohotkey script that you can that allows yout to enable and disable qwerty and Dvorak between all applications by hitting the CapsLock Key. The scripts don't require administrative rights. Additionally if you hold down the right Alt key(also known as the AltGr) the home row shift to 1234567890 number keys.

Alternatively you can use a program like Keyla. Maybe even SharpKeys Portable Keyboard Layout.


Dvorak is one of the preinstalled input sources that can be selected in System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources.


Modified Dvorak Debian switch

wget -qO- http://codepad.org/CqmBFp0X/raw.c | xmodmap -

If the Linux distro has a GUI, you can change your keyboard layout is through System -> Preferences -> Keyboard, Layouts Tab, Add

You can also permanently change the keyboard layout form terminal, but unfortunately this often requires you to login out and back in to take effect.

Change System Default Keyboard

|OS    |default                                     |
|debian|sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration|    
|      |                                            |      
|fedora|sudo system-config-keyboard                 |
|ubuntu|sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration|      
|suse  |yast2                                       |
|mandiv|keyboarddrake                               |

In most Unix based OS's there are two ways in which you can temporarily change the keyboard layout. You can change the keyboard layout in the GUI(x11) interface or in the console interface.

console - (Ctl+Alt+f1) temp changes kb layout for the console

gui - temp changes kb layout for X11

|OS       |console                |gui                                |
|         |                       |                                   |
|debian   |sudo loadkeys dvorak   |setxkbmap dvorak                   |
|fedora   |su root;loadkeys dvoark|setxkbmap dvorak                   |
|ubuntu   |                       |                                   |
|suse     |                       |                                   |
|mandive  |                       |                                   |
|tinycore |kmap=dvorak/dvorak     |sudo loadkeys <                    |
|         |                       |/usr/share/kmap/dvorak/dvorak.map  |

If you are in Debian the fastest way to chage the keyboard layout is to to run the follwing commands

sudo loadkeys dvorak
sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

One last possible solution involves using xmodmap instead of setxkmap (or whatever the built OS keyboard switcher might be). This can allow you to switch keys based on the keycode values instead of relying on available keyboard maps on the system.


You can type Dvorak online at branah.com/dvorak or inputking.com.

There also have been attempts to detect the keyboard layout in the browser, so you could potentially switch the keyboard layout through the browser online.

Physical Switch

Additionally you can get a physical doggle called QIDO, that switches between Dvorak and QWERTY manually.


Ideally you could create a Window autohotkey script that has unix sh commands appended at the bottom. It appears appending text to the bottom of an Autohtkey executable doesn't alter it's ability to run. You can then run the file in Windows by doubling clicking on the file and convert the keyboard layout to Dvorak by running something short like in unix.

wget -qO- DvorakScriptHosted.com | tail -n 40 | sh
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