If you use Dvorak as your main typing interface and installed GNU/Linux recently then you'd most probably want to know how to change not just from QWERTY -> Dvorak but to switch between different types of keyboard layouts in Gnome.
For this example I'm using the Ubuntu 11.04 (seriously if you have lower end PC, especially a VGA card with low 3D support, while comparing with standard of these days then the Unity desktop will be a bit troublesome). I'm going to switch from QWERY to Dvorak in this example but using this method you should be able to switch between any layout no matter what GNU/Linux keyboards that you use as long as the operating system supports it.
First access the "System Settings" from the drop down menu from the upper right corner of your Panel.
From the window you get choose "Hardware" from the left side and then choose "Keyboard" from the right-side menu (screenshot -1).
Under "Layouts" tab, click on "Add" button and from the next window, choose "United States" from the "Country" drop down menu and
Under the "Variants" drop-down menu choose "USA Dvorak". Now Click "Add" button on the lower right corner.
Now we have to "define" a shortcut to switch between the layouts or you can make "Dvorak" the default layout by default (even while at log-in screen).
1. Make it Dvorak by default - From the "Keyboard Preference" window, click on "USA" as shown in the below screenshot (3) and click on the "Remove" icon. That should do it.
|Screenshot - 3|
2. Switch between keyboards using a short-cut key - This is the best option if you have to share the computer, where others have no idea of what Dvorak is, etc.
In that instance, click on the "USA Dvorak" button on "Keyboard Preference" and click on the "Options" button and from the configuration window you'll see a bold text which says - "Keys to change layout". Under that choose your preferred keyboard shortcut.
|Screenshot - 4|
That's it. From now on, you should be able to either permanently use a single keyboard layout or switch between more than one in Ubuntu 11.04 or Gnome in general.
How to make a Layout permanent -: There are two main methods that you can make a Layout Permanent. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, other than your primary layout, you can remove all others from the "list" (by clicking on "Remove" button) or you can try the below method instead, which would be the best method since we don't have to remove any layout... so you can switch to a different one later easily in the future.
Within the Keyboard preference window, choose your layout that you want to make default and simply click on the button called "Move UP", take it upwards until it reaches the top position in your layouts.
Below screenshots show how I made my Keyboard (not a Bluetooth keyboard, standard one... and all of those who has this issue, do you use a Bluetooth keyboard ??) use Dvorak as the default layout by using the "Move UP" button.
|1. Chose your Layout... and use that "Move Up" button.|
|2.Until to the point, where your (Dvorak in this example) primary layout sits at the top of the list.|