How To Type Natively In Chinese In Linux

Setting up and installing different language packs in Linux is generally very easy. I am going to explain how to install Chinese  using Linux Mint 12 using Gnome Classic, the steps of which are nearly identical in Mate. These same steps work for Linux Mint 13 with Mate, Linux Mint 17, probably Linux Mint 18, Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 14.04, likely Ubuntu 16.04 and other various versions and derivatives of Ubuntu. The steps may vary slightly if you have a different distribution or version of Linux such as Debian Jessie. In Linux Mint (or whichever distro you use), go to Applications -> System Tools -> Language Support or System -> Preferences -> Language Support depending on your distro. (Note, if you use another desktop manager, like LXDE or XFCE, it should be easy to find language support by looking through the menu to get similar results as in Mate.)

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Then choose ibus as the “Keyboard input method system”. If ibus is not already installed, you are going to want to install it using Synaptic Package Manager, and installing the package called ibus . Assuming you have ibus selected as the “Keyboard input method system”, now go to Install/Remove Languages. (Note the system may want you to update before this step, and if it does, update the language support as it recommends). Then scroll down to Chinese, and choose either Simplified or Traditional or both. Then install them.

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Now go to Applications -> Other -> Keyboard Input Methods or System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Input Methods depending on your distro. Here you can configure how you want all the keyboard methods to work. Generally, CONTROL + SPACE will turn ibus on or off. I like to use CTRL + 9 as the Next input method. Now, while still in Keyboard input Methods, click on the tab called “Input Method”. Then select a Chinese input method, then add one.

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If you want more Chinese input methods, as I normally do, go to Synaptic Package Manager and install the packages:
ibus-m17n
ibus-pinyin

If you are using Debian Jessie, I recommend installing ibus-libpinyin instead of ibus-pinyin since ibus-pinyin is a little buggy in Debian Jessie.

Generally you are going to want ibus to work globally across all applications, so go to the tab Advanced and click “Share the same input method among all applications”.

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Now restart ibus, and you may need to restart your computer. After restarting, you should now be able to type in Chinese in Linux 🙂

Do you have anything to add to this article? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

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