Update: For Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10, please use this guide.
Update: For Ubuntu 14.04, please use this guide.

With Ubuntu karmic came a new input system named ibus which replaced the old scim. ibus is completely written in python and makes use of dbus to connect to a variety of input methods. The best input method to write japanese is Anthy. I will show you, how to set it up and show you some configurations which I prefer.

  1. Click on System->Administration->Language Support
  2. Click on "Install / Remove Languages..."
  3. Scroll down to Japanese and select it. Select the checkbox "Input methods". (I recommend to to install the extra fonts too, although you don't necessarily need them. "Translations" allows you to use your system in japanese. It is a great way to learn computer-related japanese words. You can switch between languages in the login-screen. Note this bug if you plan to switch languages from the login screen.)
  4. Click on "Apply Changes", enter your password and let it work. Then close the window labelled with "Changes applied".
  5. Set the "Keyboard input method system" to ibus.
  6. Log out and log in to start the ibus daemon.
  7. Now you should see the small keyboard sitting in your notification area.

    Left click on it to show a menu. Select "Preferences".

  8. Switch to the tab called "Input Method". Click on "Select an input method" and select "Japanese->Anthy" from the list. Don't confuse it with "anthy (m17n)".
  9. Click on "Add".
  10. Remove the "ispell (m17n)" input method by selecting it and clicking on "Remove". The result should look like this:
  11. Now you can try writing japanese by hitting "Ctrl+Space" in your text-editor of choice. Notice the input language bar in the right bottom corner.
  12. Pressing space will show you a list of choices and pressing "Ctrl+." lets you rotate between hiragana, katakana and half-width-katakana. "F7" lets you convert directly into katakana.

If you like it that way, then you're done. My problem with this configuration is, that "Ctrl+Space" triggers autocomplete in most programming IDEs, so I will show you my configuration.

  1. I use "F3" to write japanese and remove all other keybindings. I also want my candidates list to be horizontal.

  2. Clicking on the "i" on the input language bar will open the configuration panel for Anthy.

    You can play around with the settings but I personally like the default behaviour on this tab. Eventually you might want to play with "Behaviour on Focus Out". The "Key binding" tab is more interesting to me since I use always set the "convert_to_katakana" keybinding to "F4" instead of "F7".

Thank you for reading and have fun writing japanese in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

If this article was useful to you, you might also be interested in my (short) list of extremely useful Japanese software and websites.

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