Cover image

Whacky split keyboard, the glove80

published 04/06/2024 in Linux | tags : Linux, Arch, Keyboard, ERGO, glove80

  Estimated read time: 9 min.


As mentioned last time here’s my short review of my latest keyboard purchase “The Glove80”. You can find some more information about the keyboard on their site here.

Glove80 layout

Keyboards so far

My “keyboard” journey, has been for the most part always mechanical, even before they were collectors items.

And finally a glove80.

One thing in common with most of these are that they have a conventional qwerty layout, and kept getting progressively smaller layouts.

Any of the computers I’ve ever built have had mechanicals in some form or another, even before they were collectable/a thing. I was never one for flashy/rgb’s. Only ever using rubber membrane keyboards either during computer labs at university or when using some friends or co-workers computers.

It just doesn’t feel like a computer if the keyboard is squishy to me. I suppose I end up justifying it because most of my hobbies and work are on the computer.


Previous speed on normal layouts is roughly 120-130wpm, but with some pain at the end of the day. Current speed with the glove80, is 84wpm~, after 2 months of use.

It will likely improve, but I do find myself not caring as much about speed due to having my hands anchored on the hand-rests.

Maybe it’s the false sense of urgency that happens when hovering over and typing on a conventional keyboard that just puts me in the “gotta type fast” mode with normal kbs.

Not having to stretch my hands to hit the various secondary keys, like ESC, or doing weird hot key combinations META+SHIFT+Q comes to mind etc. More on this later, with some home-row mods / chords, I cannot understate how this contributes to the relaxed feel of typing on this keyboard.

Spoilers getting old sucks, even when all you do seems to be “play on the computer”, RSI and carpal tunnel to an extent have been making my hands / wrists hurt after a full days coding.

I will concede that after 2 months of using the Glove80, my speed isn’t quite as fast as it still is on regular keyboards, however the aftermath after a full work day, at least so far, is much better.

My Workflow

And while my speed at typing speed tests is lower, actual speed for what I end up using my keyboard for most of the day is improved. Since I’m coding and editing scripts in NeoVim all day, never having to move my hands from the rests is really a huge improvement. No longer am I doing any crazy finger contortions to hit all the key combinations for managing my windows with i3wm, or swapping between vim splits etc.

Mostly only taking my hands off the keyboard to roll the track ball over to a browser to browse github etc. Living in the terminal with this keyboard properly setup is very nice borat gif.

The layout

I use a slightly modified version of the Glorious Engrammer layout, with a few tweaks to make it more comfortable for me. Check the link above, the guys put a ton of work into this layout, and I was able to use it without too much modifications, and I am quite a stickler for keybindings, he’s even got some tutorial videos if you want to learn about the various layers and home-row mods.

This has a really good baseline of layers, and home-row mods, that make spending a day in the terminal a really great experience.

Base layer

The base layer is pretty standard

Glove80 base


There is also a stellar symbols layer, that’s very intuitive to use with neovim. Below are some of the various layers that I end up using with the glove80.

Glove80 symbols


The gaming layer, I still need to do some work on, while it covers most of my usecase, it definately needs some tweaking on my part to make it compatible with the games I play. However having the spacebar remapped to the left hand on this layer is huge, as I can basically play any FPS game now with only left hand on the, and the other on the trackball. Since the spacebar is normally on the right hand split in most of the layers.

Glove80 gaming

Other layers

Of note, there are several other layers that I use less often, a plain typing layer that has all the home-row mods disabled, which can be used for gaming as well since the home-row mods generally conflict with playing just about any games.

There is also an emoji layer, which is quite funny, and I only remember a couple of the emoji’s keybinds since I don’t use it much, but it is quite hilarious for quickly shit-posting in slack or discord.

Home-row mods

Not something I had ever really dabbled with since, I always had all those keys readily available on regular layouts, however, there was some form of hand contortion required to hit all them, and while not overly inconvenient, there were times when I did have to pull my hands off the keyboard and stretch my fingers or just shake em out with regular layouts, and the amount of vim keybinds I have todo in a general day. I guess now with home-mods and chording, I’m maybe one step closer to becoming an Emacs user barf gif… Hopefully that day doesn’t ever come, but if it does, at least I have a keyboard appropriate for it I guess.

Homerow mods if you aren’t familiar are just keys that you hold for a couple milliseconds and then they turn into META or modifier keys.And being home-row mods, you can probably piece together, that these are the home-row on the keyboard, aka asdf jkl;.

They took surprisingly little time to get used to for all my coding related tasks, however they basically make playing games impossible. Playing games impossible HOW you may ask? Well, unless you have your movement keys set to shift/meta/ctrl and alt, you won’t be moving anywhere in game… since that’s what the home-row mods are set to.

Some more information on the particular mods can be found here, and he goes into way better details than I ever could.

Some deets

The glove80 comes with a rather huge case, it’s super light and fits the keyboard well, but it’s hilariously large for such a light keyboard. I def would feel a bit embarrassed bringing it into the office, yet I may bring it in tomorrow to show some of the folks at work tomorrow, as they have been asking to see it.

Glove80 in it's case

Build Quality

The keyboard is very well made, it is however very light, and “feels” fragile if you are typing on it without having your hands on the rests, it doesn’t have much heft keeping it in place. To clarify it only “feels” fragile while you are manipulating it / taking it out of the case and not actively typing on it. I haven’t had any issues though with it moving around other than when I’m trying to use non-terminal applications or game engines like Godot(I’ll go over this in a bit). I definitely do not feel like I am going to break it while typing on it, it’s very solid and has many mounts / anchors that can be fastened and adjusted to the desk if you wanted it tilt-mounted etc.

Overall very nice when actively typing on it.


Warning this is just my opinion (from an old nerd that lives in the terminal), maybe I just suck at using gui applications… but anyways.

This is a terminal users keyboard, thru and thru. If you haven’t had a keyboard with thumb clusters, it does take a bit of time adjusting, but it’s like second nature now, and I had 25 years of muscle memory to overcome, and it’s only a couple months now and I’m quite proficient already with them, so it’s not too bad.

However… if you are using DAW’s, GIMP (or photo editing software), godot or game engines, basically any GUI applications that requires you to move you hand to the mouse frequently, or have to use un-re-mappable shortcuts.

The split layout of this keyboard truly isn’t optimized for this (unless you are very patient at remapping all the keys to adapt to each application, and you could the ZMK firmware is quite good). This is something I’m told is not unique to the glove80 and basically just an issue with split keyboards in general.

This is when you notice that the glove80 is sliding around on the desk when you are trying to us the mouse/trackball in one hand and doing shortcuts with the other.

Just something to take into consideration if you are thinking of getting one of these, and you are not a terminal user.


There are RGB’s on it, and you can use it to display the battery power of it, since it is technically Bluetooth (although I do use it wired and plugged in at all times). I have no idea how long the battery lasts, but I’d hope at least a day, since it does come with a traveling case, but it’s not something I care about, so likely will never come up (for me at least).

Here I was testing out the various RGB modes, before turning them off forever(curmudgeon mode on). I don’t really care for them, as I generally don’t like having glowing lights shining up in my face when working on the computer in an otherwise dark room.

Glove80 RGB rainbow

A nice purple glow.

Glove80 RGB purple

Arch BTW?

Also it works great in Arch, zero configuration required etc. The keyboard uses ZMK firmware, and is flashable in Linux by mounting each half as a USB drive and just dropping the files onto them. It could not have been simpler, and it worked right away with no fuss.

I’ve also never had the bluetooth drop out on me, that being said, I have kept it wired up for most of the time that I’ve used it.

Here is the layout editor / firmware generator, it’s quite slick and highly modifiable.


Probably not for everyone, if you use many GUI applications or are super fond of using the mouse a bunch, this is likely not a great combination.

I will keep using it as it’s less painful(so far till I get new and improved RSI/Carpal tunnel v2), and most of my work is not GUI centric.

This isn’t a great gaming keyboard, but can still be used for gaming, so I would definitely not recommend it if you are planning to mostly use it for gaming, as having to switch layouts to be able to “play” the game, and then actually type in games if there’s chat functionality there (see MMO’s etc), is quite a pain in the ass. However it’s not a deal breaker for me since for the rest of the day, it’s a dream to type on.