The following describes the keyboard I'm currently using, and probably represents the majority of the keyboards that come with new PC computers. I don't know of Macintosh and other computer keyboards, or older layouts of PC keyboards. And don't even get me started with Dvorak or other odd things.

The keyboard has 105 keys - older models have only 102 (no Windows keys).

Left side

First row: Esc, F1-F4, F5-F8, F9-F12

Second row, unmodified: § 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 + '
With shift: ½ ! " # ¤ % & / ( ) = ? `
With AltGr, keys 2-4 produce @ £ $ and 7-0+ produce { [ ] } \

Third row: Tab q w e r t y u i o p å "

(the quote mark is actually umlaut key - with shift, it produces circumflex (^) and with altgr it produces tilde (~). AltGr+E produces Euro sign (€ = fallen-over Quake II logo).

Fourth row: CapsLock a s d f g h j k l ö ä ' (last is * when shifted)

(Enter key spans the end of both third to fourth row.)

Fifth row: Shift < z x c v b n m , . - Shift

First key shifted >, | with altgr. last three keys ; : _ shifted.

Sixth row: Ctrl LeftWin Alt Space AltGr RightWin Menu Ctrl

Right side

This is fairly same what can be found from other PC keyboards: On the first row PrintScreen/SysRQ, ScrollLock, Pause/Break; then below it Insert, Home, PgUp; Delete, End, PgDn, and below it cursor keys.

Number pad has numlock, /, *, -, numbers and decimal comma, and big + and Enter.

Strange things to note

The most useless keys on this keyboard is probably the key on the top left corner under Esc - it produces section sign (§) and one-half vulgar fraction (½). Personally, I have never needed this, and the fraction thing sort of smells of typewriters. The section sign is sort of plausible because some people actually need it, but...

And how about the shift+4 deal then, "¤"? General currency symbol???

Euro symbol could have been placed under AltGr+1 or AltGr+5 (better there), because that's where the rest of the currency symbols are, anyway.

XFree86 cleverly uses RightWin as MultiKey, which is pretty cool.

The Finnish keyboard layout is literally painful with programming, unix shells, and probably many other areas where punctuation characters are used extensively:

  • / and a few other punctuations are accessed with the Shift key, as opposed to the unmodified access in the US, UK and some other layouts.
  • { [ ] } \ | are accessed with the AltGr key. It is much worse than Shift because both the modifier and the keys are on the right-hand side. It is generally much easier to press the modifier with one hand and the key with the other. It's the reason for two Shift keys, for example.
  • < and > are on the same key, with one of them unmodified and one via the Shift. It is a difficult situation whenever these are used as bracket-like delimiters, such as in HTML tags. Brackets like ( ) [ ] { } usually have the same modifier for both members of the pair, and it also applies to the < > in the US and UK keyboards.

The reasons for this layout are difficult for me to imagine. If you take a US keyboard and append the å ä ö, you need to relocate three of the punctuation keys. (AltGr is still necessary because of the increased total number of symbols.) The Finnish layout has a lot more changes than this, and most of these only seem to make typing harder. I personally use the UK layout and switch to the Finnish one only when I need to type long texts in Finnish. This is despite a long exposure to Finnish keyboards.

Fortunately, some keyboard layouts have an umlaut character which allows one to type letters like 'ä' and 'ö'1. The British keyboard driver of XFree86/Xorg has this at AltGr+[.

  1. 'Å' is used in Swedish which is another official language in Finland. There is a similar modifier for these 'ringed' letters, the X layout has it at AltGr+Shift+[.

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