2 0 1 0 年 9 月 8 日

Input Chinese, Japanese and Korean in Ubuntu


Setting up Ubuntu to type in CJK languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) is very straightforward. The first step is to install the Smart Common Input Method.

Installing SCIM

Open up a terminal (ctrl + alt + t) and type:

sudo apt-get install scim scim-m17n

Then go to System → Preferences →SCIM Input Method Setup. The first thing you’ll want to do here is go to Global Setup under IMEngine. Every available language is selected, which you probably don’t want, so Disable All and scroll through selecting the ones you need.

For Mandarin Chinese, select Chinese (simplified) even if you want to type traditional Chinese characters – this option covers both.

SCIM’s appearance

You might also want to play around with the look and feel of SCIM. You can do this on GTK under Panel.

I’d recommend increasing the font size to make it easier to recognise complex characters, and deselecting all of the Show options apart from Show input method icon, just to declutter it a bit.

Using SCIM

Now you’re ready to go. Whenever you want to type a CJK language, just press ctrl + space. SCIM will pop up and enable you to select languages and type them.

When you want to go back to English, just press ctrl + space again.

Smart Pinyin (智能拼音)

The easiest Chinese input method is probably Smart Pinyin, which you need to install separately:

sudo apt-get install scim-pinyin


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  • Sarah

    How do I type traditional characters? Everything else seems to work fine …

    • http://eastasiastudent.net/about Hugh Grigg

      Click the icon marked 中. It’ll cycle through input options for 簡, 繁 and 英. 中 is a general input that includes both simplified and traditional. The keyboard shortcut to cycle through these options is ctrl + / by default.

      • Sarah

        Thank you! This has been really helpful for me :)

  • http://thiscanbepronounced.wordpress.com Rhoi Fajardo

    Is this still relevant? I’ve started using Ubuntu again and it has support for these languages as you long as you tell it to install them. They seem good enough so far.

    Are these still somehow better? What’s your recommendation now?

    • http://eastasiastudent.net/about Hugh Grigg

      Yeah it should work out of the box in Ubuntu when you select languages. Sometimes it doesn’t, though, hence this guide.

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