Don Reed's Xwindows Setup

Don Reed uses the following configuration to set up Dvorak kemaps in Xwindows. His setup includes the option of having the bracket and brace characters on matching keys, and it also sets up a quick way of switching keyboards.

Before doing this setup, you might need to type the following command (in QWERTY) to create the default keysym file Don uses in his setup:

xmodmap -pke > /tmp/keyboard.default

The rest of this page is in Don's own words:

  1. Create a keyboards directory:

    mkdir $HOME/keyboards

  2. Install the default keyboard (QWERTY) as keyboard.default in this directory, as well as one or both of the attached files: keysym.dvorak,

  3. Add the following lines to your .profile file, or whatever:

    alias aoeu="xmodmap $HOME/keyboards/keyboard.default"
    alias asdf="xmodmap $HOME/keyboards/"


    alias aoeu="xmodmap $HOME/keyboards/keyboard.default"
    alias asdf="xmodmap $HOME/keyboards/keysym.dvorak"

    These allow you to switch keyboards on the fly, by typing the first four home-row keys on the left hand. This makes life easier for systems administrators and others who might have to use your machine.

I have attached two files:

keysym.dvorak is the so-called ANSI-standard Dvorak layout, which puts left and right brackets on the same key, and left and right braces on the same key, using the shift key to choose them. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been part of a widely distributed commercial product. is the Microsoft-Apple Dvorak layout, which puts the left and right brackets on facing keys, and the left and right braces on the same (shifted) keys. This arrangement is much easier to remember and use, which is why both Microsoft and Apple adopted it. This layout has been distributed with every copy of DOS and Windows, and with some Apple machines (IIe, IIc, IIGS).

Don Reed	Veritas Software
408-446-9763	415-335-8442

Back to Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard.

Last update: 16 March 1996
Original page established: 16 March 1996
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