Sunday, January 11, 2009

Installing Asian Language Input Support for SCIM in Ubuntu

So what do you do if, for example, you want to be able to type Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Thai, or Nepali while still in your usual English environment? What if you want to be able to type all of those languages in the same document? Can you do it? You bet. There are actually several ways of going about this, but the one of the most straightforward to use is Smart Common Input Method (SCIM), the base for which comes preinstalled in Ubuntu. SCIM supports most Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean, and it provides a number of input methods for many of these.

Downloading and Installing SCIM Input Method Modules
Despite coming preinstalled on Ubuntu, SCIM will not be able to do anything for you right out of the box. In order to enable SCIM so you can input CJK and other similar types of characters, you will need to install a package called im-switch. Then you will need to install the appropriate input modules for the language you wish to type in. The easiest and least problematic way of getting these packages is via the Language Support utility. Just go to the System menu, select Administration -> Language Support, and then install support for the languages you want. After the installation of the language support modules is complete, there is still one simple step left. Just log out, and then once you’re back at the login screen, log back in. A SCIM applet will appear at the right side of the top panel, letting you know that SCIM is ready for action.

Typing in Asian Languages with SCIM
To get a feel for how SCIM works, try using it with Gedit (Applications -> Accessories_Text Editor). Once Gedit appears, click the SCIM panel applet. A list of the available languages that can be handled via SCIM will then appear in a drop-down menu. Remember, however, that the number of languages appearing in that menu will be dependent on the number of language packages you installed.

From that list, select the language you want to use, and then, for those languages where you are given a choice, select the input method you prefer. The icon for the SCIM panel applet will reflect the change by showing the icon for the language you have chosen. You can then start typing. At this point, a small input palette will appear at the bottom-right corner of the screen. This palette, in addition to displaying the language and input method currently in use, also allows you to easily switch between English and the current language of input, or to switch from the language in which you are currently typing to another. By clicking the red button at the far-right end of the palette, you can also find out what the hotkeys are for the input method you are currently using. Regardless of the input method you are dealing with, probably the most important hotkey combination you will want to use is SHIFT-spacebar, which toggles you back and forth between English and the language you currently have selected in SCIM.

Installing Additional Input Methods
You may find that the input methods supplied for the languages you have chosen may include some that you are not familiar with. For example, the default Korean set is not based on the standard keyboard (the only one I’m familiar with), and it does not have Hangul-to-Hanja conversion capabilities like the hiragana-to-Kanji ones included by default in the Japanese module. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by using Synaptic to install additional input modules. Which package you download depends, of course, on the language in question. To add additional modules for Korean, install scim-tables-ko. For additional Japanese input methods, install scim-tables-ja. Finally, for additional Chinese modules, install scim-tables-zh. You can also use SCIM to conveniently type in other Asian languages that do not require special conversion routines, such as Thai, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Punjabi. To get input support for these languages, install scim-tables-additional.

Source of Information : Ubuntu for Non-Geeks (2nd Ed)

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