How to input chinese characters in gnome

Writing in Pinyin

Pinyin is the transcription of the spoken Chinese language in latin characters. Each character has a tone which can be entered via the keyboard's various layers. E.g. on a German keyboard, buttons for ' and ` are available which allows to write the second (e.g. má) and forth tone (e.g. mà). The first tone can be composed by holding <alt gr> + <shift> + <+> then the character (e.g. mā), the third by <alt gr> + <shift> + <ä> then the character (e.g. mǎ).


Install the fonts

optionally also

using ibus

ibus is a DBus-based daemon which supports different input method modules (IMmodules) and integrates well with e.g. KDE 4, GNOME. The documentation can be found at I18n/ibus

using UIM


Start uim-pref-gtk (type this in a terminal window)

change the setting for selection of chinese input from <Shift>-Space to <Ctrl>-Shift (<Alt>-Shift did not work)


Change over to chinese input with <ctrl>-Shift Select an alternate chinese character with <Ctrl>-N

To edit and enter Pinyin, add all vowels into the character palette: áéíóúàèìòùāēĩōūăĕĭŏŭǚ

using SCIM


Install the package scim

The file README.Debian in /usr/share/doc/scim contains the necessary documentation.

To convert pinyin into Chinese, also add scim-pinyin. Gnome-Users should also add scim-gtk2-immodule to make use of the the GTK IM (GTK input method).

If you are not using an US-English keyboard, your keyboard has to be defined in file ~/.scim/global. If that file does not exist, start scim in a terminal and terminate with Ctrl-C. Check you locale LANG with the terminal command locale, for German it is e.g. de_DE.utf8. Add the line /SupportedUnicodeLocales = <your_locale> to that file.

If there are many users on a system and use the same locale, you may want to consider changing the system configuration file /etc/scim/global to set the supported locale.


Just start a GTK+/GNOME program, right-click somewhere on an input field and choose "Input Methods -> SCIM Input Method" in the pop-up menu, and SCIM should automatically start if it's not started yet. Now pressing Ctrl-space should also activate SCIM and show a toolbar. You can start typing and suggestions are being made. There are alternative ways described in the documentation mentioned above.

using Fcitx

You can do this with dpkg-reconfigure:

# dpkg-reconfigure locales

Now choose the locale that you want to use, e.g ZN - CN - UTF8 locale.

# apt-get install fcitx fcitx-sunpinyin fcitx-libpinyin


From the menu choose fcitx.

Use in GNOME

To make fcitx work inside GNOME environment you will need to remove all the input sources from gnome-control-center, clear all the hotkeys for input methods and issue the following command to disable iBus integration:

gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.keyboard active false