Pinephone – a slate phone, convertible into a clamshell

The Pinephone is a smartphone developed by Pine64, intended to allow users to have full control over the device. It runs plenty of GNU/Linux distributions and provides six physical kill switches, which allow disabling hardware components.

The smartphone itself looks like an ordinary slate phone. However, there is the keyboard case accessory, which converts the device into a clamshell Linux handheld.

Despite the fact that Pine64 developers were inspired by the Psion Series 5 keyboard, the Pinephone keyboard is not as comfortable to type on as the Gemini PDA keyboard. Besides that, the device is quite bulky when the keyboard is attached.

Nevertheless, it seems to be the most affordable Linux handheld with a physical keyboard, a 5.5-inch display, and a wide range of connectivity options. Do not expect high performance, though.

Overall, the Pinephone with the keyboard case is a nice toy for a nerd.

Android keyboard layout for TK-FBP018


In my opinion, ELECOM TK-FBP018 is one of the best portable bluetooth keyboards available on the market today. As you can see, the keyboard layout is quite different from the default US English keyboard. This note presents the Android key layout for this keyboard written by me.

Layout description

The keyboard layout is represented on the image below.


It offers two key maps: English and Russian . The English key map is colored in black. It’s almost identical to the key map printed on the keyboard. The Russian key map is colored in green. The Caps lock toggles between the two key maps.

If you want to adapt the key map for some other language, just replace the capslock and capslock+shift mappings with desired unicode codes in the kcm-file.

How to install

Just copy the key character file Vendor_056e_Product_1018.kl to /system/usr/keylayout/ and the key layout file Vendor_056e_Product_1018.kcm to /system/usr/keychars/.

You need to have root access to do this. Also make sure that permissions to these files are 0644 and the owner is root:root.

In case of any troubles with the layout (for example, when it doesn’t seem to be loaded when you connect the keyboard), see the system log using the logcat command.

Useful links

  1. Key Layout Files from official Android documentation.
  2. Key Character Map Files from official Android documentation.
  3. Tutorial: A custom android layout for logitech tablet keyboard – a very detailed instruction for creating custom key maps for Android.

Update from 17 Jan 2015

After few weeks of usage, I decided to modify the keyboard kayout in order to make it as close to the ordinary qwerty-layout as possible. This image repesents the result:


The corresponding keyboard layout files are here: kcm, kl.