Thomas: concerning keyboard layouts, I myself ended up using US layout exclusively (British work fine too). The French layout also has shift for digits, and start with AZERTY on the top row. It all came back to the time I was given, at work, an old laptop with a British keyboard. Reluctant at first, I got used to it and actually found it actually very useful for programming. The only problem I had at one point was to get accents on a US layout, but fortunately configuring right-Alt to be compose works pretty well, while the British layout, at least on RH 6.2 (I was using at that time) had Alt-Gr to provide a few dead keys for diacriticts. Actually the compose setup is better than the French keyboard because I can access even more combinations of diacritics/letters.
And for my Canadian readers, I have to point out that the French keyboard layout I'm talking about has nothing to do with the Canadian-French we find here which looks marginally more convenient.
Once again the choice of keyboard layout is a matter of tastes and habits.