Tibetan Input Method for Linux

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Img. 1: IBus needs to be enabled in Language settings
Img. 2: IBus preferences, hotkeys for switching input methods
Img. 3: IBus preferences, input method selection

Linux supports a number of different input method implementations to support different Tibetan keyboards:

  • IBUS, the Intelligent input bus. This provides the currently recommended method for typing Tibetan in Linux.
  • UIM, for older linux versions that do not yet support IBus
  • SCIM, not described here.

Installing a Tibetan IBUS input method for gnome

  • You should have installed the packages: ibus, ibus-m17n, m17ndb.
  • Ubuntu users need to make sure (10.04 and higher) that IBus is the active input method: Go to System / Administration / Language support: On the bottom of the screen is the Input Method selector, make sure it is on "IBus". (See Img. 1)
  • Next, configure a hotkey that switches between your normal keyboard and the Tibetan input method. Go to System / Preferences / IBus Preferences and select a hot key (see Img. 2).
  • Then enable a Tibetan input method (available are EWTS, extended Wylie, Wylie and CTRC) (see Img. 3)

Installing a Tibetan UIM input method for gnome

For gnome you need the packages uim, uim-m17nlib, uim-applet-gnome. This installs a Wylie input method (as part of uim-m17nlib) and a keyboard switcher that can be added to the gnome panel:

  • Right-click the gnome-panel, select "Add to Panel..." and add the "Input Method Indicator (uim)".
  • Within the configuration of UIM, enable the input method "m17n-bo-wylie" or the newer m17n-bo-ewts, .
  • Now open gnome text editor (gedit), select a Tibetan font, e.g. Tibetan Machine Uni and activate the input method "m17n-bo-wylie".
  • You should now be able to type Tibetan.

Advanced customization

All input methods (scim, uim, and ibus) rely on a configuration file that is installed as part of m17n.lib.

It is possible to exchange or change the way the input method "m17n-bo-wylie" works: Simply edit (as root, make a backup first!)


to add or modify the translation from wylie into Unicode Tibetan. This file serves as documentation of the input method and is also a good way to understand how the input method translates Wylie into Tibetan Unicode.

More information

External Links