Type Indian Languages on Linux using KMFL

Posted on Mon 25 April 2016 in technology

This article is not so much for "mainstream" multilingual typists1. Here we discuss flexible typing systems for those working in non-standard languages.

For those of us who need customizable options for typing non-standard languages we historically turned to Tavultesoft's "Keyman" software. It was great ... with the earlier versions of Keyman we could simply edit a text file representing the keyboard of our focus language and then distribute that, along with the software, free of cost to our partners. Today, however, Keyman is fee-based, so many in South Asia have started using InKey (which, by the way, has been undergoing some major, and welcome changes of late.2)

But many of us got used to the keyboard layouts used in Keyman. If you're one of those people, and you use linux, you can get instructions for installing those same layouts on your free machine. Here are the basic steps 3:

  1. Activate iBus
  2. Install KMFL
  3. Install your keyboards

Details can be found at SIL's LSDev website.

  1. These days it is not too hard to find info on typing most any language on Windows, Mac, or Linux. For windows users, even google has an option covering most of the major langauges, at least in India. Mac's OSX arrived a bit late, but now has support for major state langauges. Linux has been a long-time supported multiple languages, and nowadays Ubuntu / Linux Mint come preloaded with international keyboards covering a variety of scripts. 

  2. Inkey no longer depends on AHK (autohotkey) so it is much more secure for redistribution. They are also developing a cool new coding language called "tinker" for keyboard developers. 

  3. Thanks to Jim Kornelsen who pointed me to these instructions.