Reading and Writing Kannada on Ubuntu (Karmic Koala)

Wednesday, 05 August 2009

Support for Kannada language has come a long way on GNU/Linux operating systems. Modern distributions of Ubuntu, Debian etc., have excellent support for writing and reading kannada. However, some software packages still need to be installed and configured.

Install required packages

$ sudo apt-get install scim scim-m17n scim-gtk2-immodule ttf-kannada-fonts
$ scim-setup &

and assign ctrl+alt+space as the trigger for switching keyboard layouts.

Create 75scim file under /etc/X11/Xsession.d/ with following lines (if you have 90im-switch, better to remove it for this setup)

export XMODIFIERS="@im=SCIM"
export XIM_PROGRAM="/usr/bin/scim -d"
export GTK_IM_MODULE=scim
export QT_IM_MODULE=scim

logout and login

Pressing ctl+alt+space should bring up the scim toolbar on the right hand bottom corner of the screen. If not, launch scim & from the shell.

I use the kn-itrans keyboard layout.


  • I did not have to delete the Malige.ttf fonts as described on this page.
  • Firefox renders kannada text properly without the need to adjust any pango settings, which seemed to be an issue in earlier Ubuntu distribution.
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