aoeui: the case for dvorak

It’s been one week now since I switched to the dvorak layout, the main reasons for it being a preemptive strike on RSI and the desire of going through a formal touch typing training without the vices of many years of crappy qwertying. It’s been easily one of the most mentally exhausting experiences in my life, and the shock of the first couple of days is something worth noting: when you type at less than 10 words per minute using your computer becomes a very alienating activity, and the tools that were previously your second home become total strangers (ahem, emacs).

Of course I still write like crap (maybe around 25-30 wpm if you trust gtypist), but I can already see how this layout was actually designed to ease writing (in english). The downside is that some well known keyboard interactions are qwerty-centric, like Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V and Ctrl-X, and some emacs key chords feel more forced than the usual. Another problem is that my hacking productivity went to hell temporarily, but I still have hopes of doing something interesting during GUADEC with the Epiphany and maemo guys among others (btw, already in Birmingham: horrible flight, and they lost the luggage of almost all the nokians, me included. Impressive).

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7 Responses to aoeui: the case for dvorak

  1. Luke says:

    I switched about 6 years ago. I’m impressed you’re up to 25-30 wpm after a week! Stick at it, it’s well worth it in the long run. I switched because of RSI, and it has made a big difference. It will take you a while to converge on your new optimal speed, but it should be higher than your optimal speed was before. (I’m about 20% faster now that I switched). Ctrl keys and symbols come slower, but the benefit is that I could program on a completely unlabeled keyboard now, because I never look at the keys even for symbols!

  2. Garoth says:

    Hey man! Good choice. I switched 2.5 weeks back, and after the starting loathing for all things I loved, I am very happy now. The speed is as it was for me at the moment, but it is picking up. I hear it is a full month to get adjusted. Also worthy of note: I read that after you learn Dvorak, it is possible to switch back and forth with practice. The mind is not limited that way.

    Anyway, you’ll be hacking faster than ever a week or two from now 🙂

  3. I switched the beginning of this year and I’m still glad that I did. There are a few keys that still often elude me, but I’m getting better and better. I don’t know if I’m consistently faster than I was after 10 years of qwerty, but I’m at least more comfortable.. and the geek cred is something you can’t like without 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mechanisms exist to make the system switch back to qwerty for keys hit while holding ctrl or alt. That makes keyboard shortcuts quite a bit easier, albeit entirely non-mnemonic.

  5. John says:


    I would recommend having a look at

    It’s an improved layout, but it keeps 95% of the hotkeys. It is better at somethings than dvorak and possibly worse at others.

  6. Aaron says:

    Welcome to the brotherhood! Good to see that the world, slowly as it is, is switching to the Greatest Keyboard Layout.

    At any event, I’ve been typing in Dvorak now for almost 2 years, and I won’t switch back. It’s been the greatest productivity event in my life. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

  7. Rob says:

    Hmmm… I’ve been using Dvorak since I was 16 but Colemak definitely looks interesting. Good vim compatibility too!

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