How to type in Tamil using Linux

The entire setup was tried on OpenSuse 11.1 and KDE 4.2.

When I was discussing to my friend Naveen about setting up Tamil input on my Linux machine, he suggested that I should try transliteration softwares. But there are lots of disadvantages with transliteration
1) Can’t experience the fun of writing in Tamil
2) Can’t type directly in to any window. need to open the transliteration software , type in it and then transfer it to the require window.
3) more key strokes are required while typing in transliteration than direct typing
4) Setting up Tamil language input in Linux is easier than installing a transliteration software, (assuming that you dont want to use a webservice)

Setting up Tamil input using KDE default support

Launch the ‘Keyboard Layout – KDE control Module’ using ‘alt+F2’ launcher or run ‘/usr/bin/kcmshell4 keyboard_layout’ on a console running under KDE. you will get the following window.

Add India from the available layouts to the active layouts and select the Tamil layout that you want. KDE4.2 supports 4 Tamil keyboard layouts . A keyboard layout is the arrangement of Tamil characters on the standard keyboard. For example, Tamil Tab typewriter layout will look as follows

Select the layout you want . Goto ‘Switching options tab’ and select the shortcut key to switch between the layouts. Alternatively select the ‘ show indicator for single layout’ so that KDE shows a flag icon in the tray. Clicking on this icon will switch through the available layouts.

Setting up Tamil99 phonetic keyboard layout

However, unfortunately KDE by default doesnot support the Tamil_Tab_Phonetic layout (Tamil99 Phonetic). This is the layout promoted by Tamil nadu government and recommended by experts.And ofcourse my favorite. To set this up we need to install SCIM ( Smart Common Input Method) modules. They support wide varity of languages including many Indian languages and Chinese, Japanes, Korean. To install SCIM Open Yast->Software->Software Manager and select the following modules. Some of them may not be necessary, However nothing wrong in selecting them.

Now open command prompt and run ‘skim’ . This will add a small keyboard icon to the tray.

Right click on it and select scim setup. In the setup window select the desired layout and disable the others. Also set the shortcut for switching the layout. now happily enjoy typing in Tamil.

தமிழுக்கு அமுதென்று பேர்! – அந்தத்
தமிழ் இன்பத் தமிழ்எங்கள் உயிருக்கு நேர்!

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6 Replies to “How to type in Tamil using Linux”

  1. hey there! Nice post. I would like to know if you any way to install indic transliteration keyboard in the system. I managed to do it with my windows but so far no success with Ubuntu. I am deprived of the joy of typing in tamil the easy way!!!

  2. I'd like to use Tamil input in linux from source with no restriction like deb/rpm/tgz etc. and also independent of window managers like KDE /GNOME/ XFCE. Can anybody help me ?

  3. Hi,

    Am using ubuntu lucid 10.04.
    I installed almost all the skim & scim packages.

    But i cannot find the tamil-phonetic and tamil99 skim for ubuntu.

    Do you know the exact package for tamil-phonetic in ubuntu-lucid.

    If so, can you help me out to digg more in tamil.

  4. After installing SCIM, Tamil Transliteration is ok except a hitch. Eventhough I am able to type “avan” as “அவன்” in this comment, it is “அவன” when typed in the in-built word processor.
    kindly guide me further.
    -Sethunarayanan

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