For GNOME users, there’s a nice little application that should do the job called Gnome On-Screen Keyboard, or GOK for short. However, when I tried to get my virtual keyboard to load, I got stuck at a different window, with no clue how to continue. The great, wide web couldn’t help me much either, so I knew that I had to get something else instead. And I found something that does exactly what I need it to do.
Florence Virtual Keyboard is a great little replacement for GOK that is easy to configure and, most importantly, easy to use. Installation, like any other Linux program, is as easy as going into your package manager and choosing the right package. Simply searching for “Florence” should be enough to lead you straight to the correct package. Install it, and away you go.
When you first launch the Florence virtual on-screen keyboard, you’ll be asked to click “OK” in order to enable the GNOME accessibility features. Once you do that, it’ll ask that you log out and log back in. Afterwards, you can launch Florence again and you’ll have your virtual keyboard ready for you.
In terms of basic functionality, Florence does exactly what you need it to: provide an on-screen keyboard that works. The keyboard itself is easy to use and intuitive. If you’ve rarely used virtual keyboards, it will work exactly how you might expect it would. Therefore there is absolutely no learning curve.
For those who would like to see a few more features than the basic functionality, don’t worry! Florence comes with a nice amount of options for your liking. You get numerous style, window, behavior, and layout options. Under the style options you can choose what kind of buttons the keys should have, and various color properties. In the you can choose things such as its opacity, whether it has window decoration, if it should be resizable, and whether it should be always on top. In the behavior tab you can set auto-click and auto-hide options. Finally, in the layout tab, you can choose what kind of keyboard layout should be displayed and whether the keyboard should include Florence keys (like the options button), Function keys (F1, F2, F3, etc.), and a number pad.
That’s all there really is to it. It’s easy to use, it works well, and it doesn’t confuse the crap out of you like GOK did to me. I bet I just missed something, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that I couldn’t find any way to launch the keyboard after half an hour. I recommend Florence Virtual on-screen Keyboard to anyone on a GNOME desktop who needs an on-screen keyboard, as KDE‘s default virtual keyboard is probably better. Just don’t expect to get 50 words per minute on Florence like you usually do.
Do you use a virtual keyboard regularly? What for do you usually use it? Do you use a different virtual keyboard on Linux? Let us know in the comments!
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