I have recently got a new laptop, my trusty old ThinkPad R40e has cracks in the case and doesn’t always load. I’m not sure how old it is, but it is an IBM thinkpad and the brand switched to Lenovo in 2005. I have run Linux on my old laptop for a while, but have not yet successfully installed it on my new one yet. One of the best things about the Linux release was the Bolnagri keyboard layout. This puts most of the devanagari characters in on keys which have the same or a similar sound on the Latin QWERTY keyboard. For example, the “d” key gives द and the shift D key ध. Vowels are slightly more complicated, as you have to hold down the ALT-GTR key for the independent forms. For example typing “ki” gives कि and kI gives की , whereas AltGtr+i gives इ , and AltGtr+I ई. This makes it very easy to use for someone who is used to the QWERTY layout; to type “namaste” I type the keys “nmsxte”, giving नमस्ते. (the x key is the virama character, which suppresses vowel sound).
I have made a couple of tentative attempts to learn Hindi. Thinking that I would try some more, I started by producing a Bolnagri keyboard for Windows. Maybe this was just so that I could stay in my comfort zone. Anyway I am sharing it as free to use for any purpose, of course with no warranty. For many people this will be the quickest and easiest way to start typing devanagari.
The Advantages of Bolnagri
The oficial Hindi keyboard layout is InScript. This has a logical layout with vowel sounds towards the left of the keyboard. The Bolnagri layout follows the phonetics of the QUERTY keyboard. This means that someone with a QWERTY keyboard can use devanagari immediately, only occasionally refering to the layout images to find the more unusual characters.