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System76 do a lot of things, they've steadily grown to a point where they make their own desktops and now they're expanding further into making more hardware.

Now they're going to have a go at making a keyboard. Not the fanciest of tech, sure, however it's something we use constantly when at a PC and it's obviously essential. It also hasn't really changed much over the years, which System76 think they can do better.

Since they're a Linux hardware vendor, and they also make their own Linux distribution with Pop!_OS, it will of course all fit together nicely.

In their blog post, they did a little interview with CEO Carl Richell, who mentioned that they did research and found that "spacebars typically, for example, are way too long" and that "you use your pinkie because useful keys are out at the extremities of the keyboard—so we wanted to change that".


Obvious early prototype.

Being configurable is a bit point of what they're doing too. The hardware, firmware and configuration software will be open source too. The keys can be swapped around, making it easy to change how you use it. And yes, it appears to be a proper Mechanical keyboard too.

It'd not going to be a massively wild design though, beginners should still be able to plug it in and get going like anyone else but "you’re going to have less strain on your hands, because instead of using your pinkies, you’ll use your thumbs for common keystrokes and key combinations" and other common keys will be more accessible.

Speaking on Twitter in reply to a quick tip we did about this early yesterday System76 Engineer, Jeremy Soller, confirmed it will work with QMK (Quantum Mechanical Keyboard Firmware) something echoed by another System76 Engineer Michael Aaron Murphy who said "Everything is open source. You may even flash the firmware to remap the behaviors of each key.".

When will it be available? They're aiming for late Summer and before then hopefully they will show off the proper final design for us to ogle over.

See their blog post for more info.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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48 comments
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Luke_Nukem 19 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Purple Library GuyLooking at that prototype . . . OK, so on a normal keyboard the spacebar is too long, I'll buy that up to a point. But, maybe my eyes are getting old here, on that prototype I can't see a spacebar at all, which isn't really an improvement. Like, down where the spacebar would be I'm seeing alt, shift, backspace, ctrl. So is one or more of those blue and orange things supposed to be "space"? I don't want to be hitting "space" with my pinky!
Also not sure if I'm seeing an "enter" key.
Still, I'll be interested to see a later prototype.

No, those two split keys where space was are meant to be assignable - so maybe you want backspace on the left and space on the right of the split (as opposed to what they are labelled as.

I think they will need to try and poll everyone for a reasonable layout to pick out what keys would be what, and offer a set of keycaps so they can be labelled.
denyasis 19 Mar, 2020
I NEED A CAPS LOCK (although I'm ok if it's off to the side). It's required for my work.

I will say, I think I'd rather have a num pad over arrow keys. Does that make me weird?
flesk 19 Mar, 2020
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The Acer Chromebooks actually don't have Caps Lock keys at all, and I haven't seen anyone complain about them missing.
jarhead_h 19 Mar, 2020
Hey maybe we could talk Purism and System76 into collaborating - System76 could design an all-AMD gaming laptop, and Purism could design the hardware killswitches for it.

I just bought my first mechanical keyboard this year, a Logitech K840 refurb from Newegg. I'm not really a clicky keys connoisseur, but so far I quite like it. The RomerG's are fine. So for me to even look at this one it's probably gonna need Cherry MX Browns.


Last edited by jarhead_h on 19 March 2020 at 10:48 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 19 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: Purple Library GuyBecause now and then I have a use for it, and when I do want it it's definitely what I want. Just not very often.

A ctrl-shift to lock it would be more than enough, imo. Or double-press shift to lock it?
We need no physical button for it. A colleague of mine has simply ripped it off his keyboard :D I've disabled it in the Gnome keyboard settings.
Yeah, I guess those would work. Long as I have the option.
Purple Library Guy 19 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Luke_Nukem
Quoting: Purple Library GuyLooking at that prototype . . . OK, so on a normal keyboard the spacebar is too long, I'll buy that up to a point. But, maybe my eyes are getting old here, on that prototype I can't see a spacebar at all, which isn't really an improvement. Like, down where the spacebar would be I'm seeing alt, shift, backspace, ctrl. So is one or more of those blue and orange things supposed to be "space"? I don't want to be hitting "space" with my pinky!
Also not sure if I'm seeing an "enter" key.
Still, I'll be interested to see a later prototype.

No, those two split keys where space was are meant to be assignable - so maybe you want backspace on the left and space on the right of the split (as opposed to what they are labelled as.

I think they will need to try and poll everyone for a reasonable layout to pick out what keys would be what, and offer a set of keycaps so they can be labelled.
I see. Kind of silly of them to have their picture of a prototype be in a configuration that it couldn't possibly in practice be.
Philadelphus 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Luke_Nukem
Quoting: Purple Library GuyLooking at that prototype . . . OK, so on a normal keyboard the spacebar is too long, I'll buy that up to a point. But, maybe my eyes are getting old here, on that prototype I can't see a spacebar at all, which isn't really an improvement. Like, down where the spacebar would be I'm seeing alt, shift, backspace, ctrl. So is one or more of those blue and orange things supposed to be "space"? I don't want to be hitting "space" with my pinky!
Also not sure if I'm seeing an "enter" key.
Still, I'll be interested to see a later prototype.

No, those two split keys where space was are meant to be assignable - so maybe you want backspace on the left and space on the right of the split (as opposed to what they are labelled as.

I think they will need to try and poll everyone for a reasonable layout to pick out what keys would be what, and offer a set of keycaps so they can be labelled.
Adding to this, I read another article about this where someone at the company said basically "The pictures don't reflect an actual product, we just took pictures of what we had while we were messing about with the layout, which is why there's no actual "Space" key on the keyboard in picture." Which seems a little odd to me, if nothing else I'd put a sticky note labeled "Space" on one of the keys so people don't get the wrong idea (as this seems to be a pretty common misconception), but whatever.

Now, I won't be using this keyboard because it has no number pad (and if you ever need to enter lots of numbers*, one-handed number pad entry beats the number keys at the top hands down†), but I kinda like the idea of breaking the space bar into two so that my left thumb can actually contribute in my typing. Having the right side be space and the left side be backspace makes a certain amount of sense to me.

*Or play Dwarf Fortress.

†Pun not intended.
Mountain Man 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: NanobangIf System 76 want to make something, start making Steam style controllers so I can shake this sense of hopelessness and loss I've had since Valve announced they were discontinuing theirs.
I hadn't heard that. That's too bad. I think the Steam Controller is the best gamepad ever made.
Purple Library Guy 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Philadelphus†Pun not intended.
Suuuuure.
AciD 20 Mar, 2020
It's weird nobody mentioned the awesome Typematrix keyboard, and its Dvorak layout:


I've been using this one for about 16 years now, and I can only recommend it.
The vertical columns and middle enter key are a must-have (http://typematrix.com/2030/why.php), among other nice features.

My only wish would be that a laptop vendor integrated such keyboard directly. That would be a dream come true!

Here are other variants, like the Qwerty one:


...and the pure blank one (which is pretty handy when combined with translucent skins):




Quoting: NanobangAfter 4 decades of touch-typing on QWERTY keyboards I'll never be able to type on anything else. I'll certainly never be able to type on anything as singularly arranged as the System 76 keyboard shown above.
Well, I can tell you that the brain is a marvelous machine, since I already touch-typed on Azerty before, and while it took me about 3 months to regain (and surpass) my previous wpm speed on the Dvorak layout, this absolutely does not mean you forget how to touch-type with your previous layout.
This only happens with Homer Simpson ;)
When you learn to drive, do you forget how to ride a bike ? Well same thing with keyboard layouts !


Last edited by AciD on 20 March 2020 at 7:26 am UTC
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