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Smartphones haven’t really needed a full computer keyboard, until now. We are turning the Linux desktop ecosystem into a convergent one. In order to access desktop applications, our keyboard has to feel good on the small screen, as well as expose common desktop keystrokes.

Terminal use

While you can comfortably use the GUI in PureOS, the terminal is fully empowered. Giving you all your favorite GNU commands, anything missing is likely an install command away. Actually using a terminal on a smartphone poses a few challenges. Displaying on a smaller screen size was solved easily by adding a touch-friendly zoom function.

King’s Cross menu

Keys like Tab, arrows, ESC are required to operate a terminal comfortably. While far from finished, a super simple initial terminal layout has been added into squeekboard/pureOS.

Early terminal layout

Keystrokes

Keyboard shortcuts like copy and paste (ctrl + c, ctrl + v) work everywhere on the desktop, so why not your phone? Since the Librem 5 will be able to scale up to use on a full-size monitor, it will be useful to access the same desktop-like functionality while mobile. Preserving the same workflow while docked and on the go. While it’s not done yet, you can follow along here.

Mockup for a more comprehensive terminal layout

If you have a strong opinion of how the keyboard should look, head on over to source.puri.sm and make your opinion known.

Hacking

The keyboard layouts are .yaml files. It’s simple to test out your own design, or even contribute your changes to the main repo.

git clone https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/squeekboard.git

mkdir -p ~/.local/share/squeekboard/keyboards/

cp ./squeekboard/data/keyboards/us.yaml ~/.local/share/squeekboard/keyboards/terminal.yaml

edit ~/.local/share/squeekboard/keyboards/terminal.yaml

Now select the terminal layout and you should see your changes.

King’s Cross keyboard selection dialog

The Librem 5 has an improved emoji keyboard layout. Giving you access to six pages of various icons.

King’s Cross emoji layout

Upcoming

Other keyboard improvements have found their way into PureOS, to name a few:

Soon the keyboard will size better at other screen scales. This will help access apps that are not yet designed for the small screen. Helping enable the large collection of Debian software.

Early scaling done by Dorota from our team.

Rapid progress is being made thanks to community involvement and the supporters of the Librem 5.

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