I would like to share some thought on keyboards and derive why it is important to care about their design in detail and what may be important for some usergroups.
1. Who is the target group of Purism products?
As the unique selling point of Purism notebooks is the coreboot feature I think the main target group are people who understand from / against what coreboot can protect them from.
a) activists, political opposition, people living under repressive regimes
In short people who must consider serious consequences for their lifes, health and freedom. I think they are maybe those who profit most from the coreboot feature. This group is quite international by its nature. As everyone they will profit from a localized keyboard easier writing out local names and longer texts. I guess other keyboard requirements from this group is quite individual.
b) developers and power users
Now it gets much more interesting on keyboard details. This part will be influences much by my personal experiences, because I am a software developer and power user. I hope that many fellow colleges will agree with my argumentation.
When I am programming, I make huge use of keyboard shortcuts, because that raise my productivity exponentially. Ideally the already learned shortcuts work out of the box without further configuration on new hardware, too. It is nasty to rearrange brain and hardware to new shortcuts while the old ones had become an automatism long ago. Part of that is, that many keyboards break with established keyboards layouts. The “Ctrl” key e.g. has been the lowest left key on the keyboard for long time. People where happy with that until the “Fn” key broke the paradise with taking the place “Ctrl” by moving it to the right. The place in the corner is an important strategic location. It is easy to find for your fingers without looking at them and it is a good starting point to blindly search other keys. I use the controll key all the time while using the “Fn” key rarely. So the important corner place is wasted by the “Fn” key and it is needed for the “Ctrl” key. That is one of many details which can be done wrong by a keyboard designer.
The next thing is that “Fn” key or special hardware functions on the keys “F1” to “F12” are hiding more important functions. Some examples:
“F1” => help (okay okay, rarely used)
“F2” => at least used in Eclipse IDE to see source documentation and similar stuff. A bit individual but important for me
“F3” => next search result (I think [Shift] +[F3] => previous result), very very common shortcut in many programs with integrated search functions (browsers, document viewers, databases, file managers, text editors, IDEs etc.)
“F5” => refresh, very very important and common in all sorts of programs
And that are only some examples. It it ridiculous that nowadays I have to press [Fn] + [F5] to refresh something, where I only used to press [F5] only int the past. This is a function used hundreds of times per day.
I know sometimes those things can be configured in BIOS but it is usually limited.
Basically it boild down to this: It is okay for me the press the [Fn] in addition to a function key for rarely used functions like display brightness, sound controll, hardware kill switches, but please do not push me to press additional keys like [Fn] for often used functions like refresh.
Also very very bad is the placement of [Pos1], [End], [PgUp], [PgDown], [Ins], [Del] and the cursor arraokeys. Okay okay, a notebook a limited place for all that stuff, but these keys are so unbelievable important to me, I pray for those noobs that do not use them. I even use them on my android phone! Those keys can help ANYONE the RAISE PRODUCTIVITY up through the ceiling. Some keyboards place those keys on the numblock, but this is done in a way that their function depends on context. This may be more of a software issue. Anyway it drives me crazy when sometimes it is used to input a number when I want to place the cursor at the beginning or ending of a line or something by pressing the same key. It would be less of a problem to steal my mouse or touchpad or the whole numpad but please these keys have to be placed properly and their use must be easy. No magic wanted.
I am sorry. In the end I got a bit emotional. Thats only because a keyboard is so unbelievable important for programmers. It should be a crime to give them bad keyboards. People who do this should go to jail. It is like cutting a pianists fingers. Its criminal assault.