ErgoDox EZ Users

Roman Zolotarev

Software Engineer
Roman Zolotarev

Who are you, and what do you do?

I make software for the web. Started my career as a webmaster in the nineties, then focused on frontend and now on backend.

I run a job board and make tutorials for BSD users. I’m fan of OpenBSD, POSIX-shell, vi, and mechanical keyboards, of course.

What hardware do you use?

Since 2016 I’ve been a happy user of ErgoDox EZ.

I bet you like when your computer is silent. Thanks to passive cooling, we can get rid of moving parts nowadays. If you don’t care about CPU/GPU performance or mobility too much, but you need a large screen and a good keyboard, you may like this setup. It’s ergonomic and relatively cheap.


Item Price, USD
ErgoDox EZ V3, Cherry MX Brown, blank DCS $325
Zotac CI527 NANO-BE $371
16GB RAM Crucial DDR4-2133 $127
250GB SSD Samsung 850 EVO $104
Asus VZ249HE 23.8” IPS Full HD $129
Kensington Orbit Trackball $33
Total $1,107

If you are a programmer, sysadmin, or author, probably all you need is a keyboard. Yes, you still may need a trackball in rare cases, for example, for selecting text in a web browser or selecting a screen area to make a screenshot.

My current setup is good for web development, but few times a year I use my old MacBooks mostly for printing and scanning documents, editing video, or recording some audio.

And what software?


Almost everything you need for web development is in OpenBSD base.

I run vi (nvi 1.79) in tmux in xterm. cwm is my favorite window manager. I use many programs from /bin and /usr/bin and glue them with shell scripts.

For example, I wrote my own password manager and static site generator in Bourne shell.

When I need more than OpenBSD base software, I install from ports:

Firefox is my default web browser.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?


ErgoDox EZ v3 with Cherry MX Brown switches, blank black keycaps (and one red DSA keycap), tilt kit, and wrist rest.

Cherry MX Brown are good for typing, and aren’t as loud as MX Blue.

My typing accuracy is at its best with DCS keycaps. I tried DSA for a month or so, but then returned to sculpted keycaps so my fingers always know where they are.

I picked blank keycaps, because when I’m typing I look at my screen, not my keyboard.

Tilt kit and wrist rest is absolute must have. Don’t know how other ErdoDox users survive without them.

On ErgoDox I use Norman layout. David (the layout’s author) claims it’s 46% less effort than QWERTY and I tend to agree. I’m still fluent in QWERTY on regular keyboards, but it takes me a couple of minutes to reach my full speed.

Note for Vim/vi users: I don’t remap any keys and HJKL works just fine for me.


Download my layout from

Tips and hints:

  • Vim key works this way: tap for ESC or hold to use it as CTRL.
  • To activate N-key-rollover (NKRO) hold left and right SHIFT, then press N.
  • To activate the Mouse layer hold TT1.
  • To toggle between layers press and release TT1.

What would be your dream setup?

My current setup is almost perfect for me, I’d like to make it more portable, though.

A portable and durable Internet-enabled typewriter: maybe an OpenBSD powered tablet with an ErgoDox that’s a bit smaller. I’d use its small screen when I travel and connect to my large screen at my home office.