Linux, Unicode, and Armenian Language support

Have you installed Linux and not sure how to type in Armenian? Are you not happy with the available Unicode fonts or keyboard layouts for the Armenian language? Then read on...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Installing the new Armenian Keyboard layouts for GNU/Linux
In a previous post, I described the 3 new keyboard layouts I created for the Armenian language. This post describes how to install these on your system. (I tested this on SUSE Linux 10.1 with X.org version 6.9 running GNOME 2.12.2.)

You will need access to the root user to be able to perform the following steps.

1. Open a terminal and change to the root user by typing: su root

2. Depending on your system, cd to /etc/X11/xkb/ or /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xkb/ (on my system, the latter is a symbolic link to the first)

3. Backup your existing Armenia layout configuration by running: mv symbols/am symbols/am.bak

4. Using your browser, download the new am configuration file from here and save it to symbols/am. Alternatively, cd to the symbols directory and run wget http://webpages.charter.net/aourishian818/am

5. Provide the appropriate permissions on the file by running: chmod 644 symbols/am

6. Now we need to let X (the graphics system) know about the new layouts. In newer versions of X, this is done by editting the \.xml file under /etc/X11/xkb/rules/, where \ is the name of your X implementation. Mine is X.org, so I'll edit xorg.xml. (On my system, both xfree86.xml and xorg.xml are symbolic pointers to the same file, base.xml). Search for the string "Armenia" in this file. This should appear in a <description> tag which is a grandchild of a <layout>. Delete this <layout> tag that describes the Armenia layout and substitute it with the XML snippet located here. Save and close the file.

5. Restart X by typing Ctl + Alt + Backspace, then run startx at the command prompt.

6. You can now configure the Keyboard Indication (see my previous post) with the new keyboard layouts.

Enjoy, and leave me any comments if you have trouble with the above.

I plan to get this into the necessary projects (most likely X.org and XFree86) so that your next Linux distro will contain a robust Armenian language support.

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