How To Type In Indian Languages On Ubuntu Linux

Brief: This article shows you how to type Roman Hindi in Ubuntu. Same steps will allow you to type in other Indian languages on Ubuntu Linux.

The largest software development project on the Earth has accepted code contributions from almost 10,000 developers. Developers who come from a wide range of regions, ethnicity and languages. Diversity is in the blood… I mean the code of Linux. Talking about diversity, did you know that India has 22 major languages?

Although almost all Linux distros provide support to Indian languages, typing is where the issue arises. It takes pretty long time to get oneself acquainted with the key bindings (Regional characters mapped to English alphabet keys). And to get comfortable and regularly use such a keyboard for day to day activities will take at least a month.

To overcome the above-said frustration, transliteration keyboards were invented. Transliteration keyboards are something that let you type in English, transliterate them phonetically to the selected target language immediately. So to use a transliteration keyboard comfortably, you don’t need a month. Not weeks. A day’s too long. An Hour? Ok, let’s settle with 30 minutes for mastery. Yes, it’s that convenient.

Type in Hindi and other Indian languages on Ubuntu

Type Indian languages in Ubuntu Linux

The Intelligent Input Bus (IBus) is an input method framework for multilingual input in Unix-like operating systems. It’s called “Bus” because it has a bus-like architecture. You can use IBus to type in your own language in most GUI applications.

We will be using IBus to transliterate English to Indian regional languages.

Step 1: Installing IBus on Ubuntu Linux

Open the terminal (ctrl+alt+t) and run the below command

sudo apt install ibus-m17n

That’s it. Now add IBus to your startup applications. Open Startup Applications from the dash. Click on add. Give the name as “ibus” and in the command box type in the following and save.

ibus-daemon

Log out and log in back.

Suggested read
Linux is Running on Almost All of the Top 500 Supercomputers

Step 2: Adding languages to keyboard

Go to settings >> Keyboard and click on text entry at the left bottom.

Now use the ‘+’ below the “Input sources to use” to add your desired language. Search for ‘ibus’ and browse for your language in the search results and select it. If multiple entries are present under your language name, add all. DO NOT SEARCH FOR YOUR LANGUAGE DIRECTLY. Do not delete the pre-defined entry that is already present.

Close all the settings windows.

Step 3: Add the language to the system

In addition to installing IBus, You need to install the desired language to the system. This can be done easily from the settings.

Open settings and click on language support.

Language support

Click on “Install/Remove languages”

Installing language

Search for your language. Check it and click “Apply”.

Step 4: Typing in Indian languages on Ubuntu

By default, English will be your typing language. Press Super+Space to select the next language that you added. If you added multiple languages, you may need to press Super+Space multiple times to check the transliteration language.

You can see the language you have currently selected in the top panel on the right-hand side. Getting used to IBus will take you a maximum of 30 minutes.

Typing Kannada

Finally

That’s it. You’re ready to go. I found IBus really very helpful in having a computing experience that was closer to my heart. If you are able to type in Indian languages on Ubuntu now, do share this article. Also, use the comment section below and let us know about your thoughts on using non-English languages on Linux.

Comments

  1. How to type ಱ್ and ೞ್ (transliteration of or set of keys to press to get ಱ್ and ೞ್ in Kannada)? ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಱ್ ಮತ್ತು ೞ್ ವನ್ನು ಟೈಪಿಸುವುದು ಹೇಗೆ?

  2. How to get it working on Linux Mint 18.1?
    Settings >> Keyboard >> Layout doesn’t show anything iBus.
    Yes i logged out and in and also restarted but no go.

  3. తెలుగు or हिन्दी or English – it’s so easy to switch scripts in Ubuntu Linux :)

  4. Hi Abhishek,

    Thank you very much for this fantastic article. I had been using a convoluted method using LaTex with a Devanagari package. That did only hindi.

    I am amazed by the simplicity of the whole thing. Go Linux! Go Abhishek!

    Ravi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

[i]
[i]