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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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Para-Gliding 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: TcheyThat’s an excuse to show you keyboards, or maybe on a specific topic ? Anyway, my keyboard since about 3 years.

dat frenchy matrix Bépo keybord. Need it!
tuubi 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: AciD
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 !
I takes me months to adjust to a new laptop keyboard with an ever so slightly different QWERTY layout. Just like it takes me ages to get comfortable with a new game controller. In any case, I just don't see the point in relearning to type. I'm sure you can type faster with your fancy keyboard, but I'm perfectly fine with that. :)
Para-Gliding 20 Mar, 2020
The opposition between 'traditionalist' and 'liberal"... I still don't understand how traditionalists can't matter that their traditions/habits come from stuffs that were marginal at one time before.

...I love dvorak, bepo, all those alternatives but their costs, wow!
I would love to buy a Ergodox EZ as it should be from my point of view a standard ... but that price XD, no way
Cybolic 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Para-Gliding[...]
...I love dvorak, bepo, all those alternatives but their costs, wow!
I would love to buy a Ergodox EZ as it should be from my point of view a standard ... but that price XD, no way
Well, I think I've spent about the same on my ErgoDox EZ as I would have continued spending on the continued search for a better keyboard, wrist pads, programming gloves, etc. For comparison, I bought 3 normal keyboards and about 5 wrist pads in the year before the ErgoDox and haven't used anything else since I got it.
There are cheaper options as well; you can get a normal ErgoDox for about $150 less if you build it yourself (you'll be missing out on the tent-kit, wrist pads and lights though) or you could build a Planck (about 50€ for the PCB off eBay).
Nanobang 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: Mountain Man
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.

I'm sorry to have been the one to break the sad news to you then. Yeah, Valve sold the last of them out for $5 during their Autumn sale. There's a lovely write-up at the Verge about the controller's passing. I've got three of them, and I'm still using the first one I bought back in '14, so I expect that I'm set for ... well, a good while.

I think the Steam Controller is like Linux itself: clearly superior, but, because it requires the user tinker and think now and then, puts it out of realm of interest for the mass of humanity living comfortably in the middle of the Bell curve.


Last edited by Nanobang on 20 March 2020 at 12:25 pm UTC
mirv 20 Mar, 2020
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Quoting: Nanobang
Quoting: Mountain Man
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.

I'm sorry to have been the one to break the sad news to you then. Yeah, Valve sold the last of them out for $5 during their Autumn sale. There's a lovely write-up at the Verge about the controller's passing. I've got three of them, and I'm still using the first one I bought back in '14, so I expect that I'm set for ... well, a good while.

I think the Steam Controller is like Linux itself: clearly superior, but, because it requires the user tinker and think now and then, puts it out of realm of interest for the mass of humanity living comfortably in the middle of the Bell curve.

I'm going to help derail slightly, but only because it's relevant to the whole one size does not fit all...

Personally, I don't like the steam controller. Badly shaped for my hands, feels like poor construction quality, and needs additional userspace utilities to use it (unlike my other controllers).
I much prefer the Logitech F710.

Which then makes me wonder about peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, controller - maybe the way to go is 3D printing. Easy assembled devices that can have some of the externals customised further than they are now. I know mechanical keyboards make this easy to switch around the keys, but I sometimes get the feeling it could go further with the right engineering behind it. One can dream I suppose.
Nanobang 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: AciDIt'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 !

It certainly looks interesting (though, again, I'd want to try the QWERTY layout one :P). I'm aware that the reason for the offset keys of the traditional keyboard have to do with the natural angle of fingers above the keys, so I'm curious about how it would feel to type with the grid of the Typematrix unit.
tuubi 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: mirvPersonally, I don't like the steam controller. Badly shaped for my hands, feels like poor construction quality, and needs additional userspace utilities to use it (unlike my other controllers).
I much prefer the Logitech F710.
My story exactly. I really like the idea of the Steam Controller. It just feels impossible to use ergonomically, and the various noises drive me crazy. I kinda feel bad about this because I got it as a gift from a friend, and then had to go and buy another Logitech gamepad anyway.
Nanobang 20 Mar, 2020
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: Nanobang
Quoting: Mountain Man
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.

I'm sorry to have been the one to break the sad news to you then. Yeah, Valve sold the last of them out for $5 during their Autumn sale. There's a lovely write-up at the Verge about the controller's passing. I've got three of them, and I'm still using the first one I bought back in '14, so I expect that I'm set for ... well, a good while.

I think the Steam Controller is like Linux itself: clearly superior, but, because it requires the user tinker and think now and then, puts it out of realm of interest for the mass of humanity living comfortably in the middle of the Bell curve.

I'm going to help derail slightly, but only because it's relevant to the whole one size does not fit all...

Personally, I don't like the steam controller. Badly shaped for my hands, feels like poor construction quality, and needs additional userspace utilities to use it (unlike my other controllers).
I much prefer the Logitech F710.

Which then makes me wonder about peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, controller - maybe the way to go is 3D printing. Easy assembled devices that can have some of the externals customised further than they are now. I know mechanical keyboards make this easy to switch around the keys, but I sometimes get the feeling it could go further with the right engineering behind it. One can dream I suppose.

Absolutely one size doesn't fit all, nor is the necessity for user setup something everyone is gonna dig. I guess those are things I meant when I compared the Steam Controller to Linux.

Your point about how the SC is badly shaped for your hands is a common complaint though. The SC is a bit large for the smaller-handed members of humanity. I will contend that it does require a bit of adjustment for anyone coming from the PS/XB etc. type of controllers for anyone whose hands aren't too small.

The whole "it feels cheap" complaint is exceedingly common among reviewers of the SC. I myself had a moment of disappointment when I first clicked one of the pads and heard its plastic-y "clack" sound. But this is an issue of personal aesthetics that in no real way reflects the quality or utility of the controller itself, and I quickly moved past it.

I hear a lot of good things about the F710 conroller, and I know a lot of people dig it deeply. Of course the Steam Controller is still the best controller ever made ... :P


Last edited by Nanobang on 20 March 2020 at 12:57 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 20 Mar, 2020
It seems to me that one of the major reasons for alternative layouts like Dvorak keyboards has greatly diminished since they were invented. That is, raw typing speed is not an issue nearly as often as it once was IMO. Used to be you had lots of situations where speed was the big thing. Secretaries took dictation, people typed stuff that had started out written on paper longhand. Sometimes people even typed multiple copies of the same thing! Later there was lots of "data entry", which is to say typing things into computers because the information didn't start on computers.
Nowadays much of that is gone. People compose their own emails, they don't dictate them to secretaries. Files are infinitely copyable. Increasingly, data originates in computers (eg forms are filled out online in the first place, not transcribed from paper), or is put there by scanning barcodes or those square barcode-like things. Typing mostly does not need to happen faster than composition, and QWERTY's fine for that, so there's little impetus for change.

It's a pity because QWERTY really isn't a very good layout, although I'm not sure I believe the story that it was deliberately designed to slow typists down to avoid keys sticking.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 20 March 2020 at 6:51 pm UTC
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