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July 11, 2011 / Chris Merck

Chinese (Pinyin) Input in ArchLinux using iBus

Previously I had used SCIM, but now ArchWiki says iBus is the actively developed/supported input method. I’m very happy with how iBus works for me. To use it, just follow the instructions on the wiki, most importantly installing pinyin support:

 sudo pacman -S ibus ibus-qt ibus-pinyin 

Also, make sure to follow iBus’s instructions regarding adding some environment vars in bashrc.

After that, you must open the iBus preferences by right-clicking on the system tray icon. Now you can press Ctrl-Enter to toggle Pinyin input mode. I wanted just one more tweak however: I want to press any punctuation key (period, comma, question mark, exclamation point) and have my pinyin converted into hanzi. To get this to work, do the following:

  1. Enable pinyin input mode by pressing Ctrl-Enter while in some text editor (say, gedit).
  2. The iBus system tray icon will turn into a ‘拼’ (‘pin(yin)’) character. Right-click it.
  3. Click on “Preferences”. Now you can edit Preferences specifically for the Pinyin input method.
  4.  Click on the Pinyin mode tab.
  5. Uncheck “[,] [.] flip page” and check “Auto commit”.
  6. Hit close. Now you can enter Chinese text at an amazing rate!

You can even leave out the endings of common sylables for an even faster input rate. For example, it takes only 21 keystrokes to enter the Chinese sentence “我们等公共汽车的时候下雨了”, a translation of “It was raining while we waited for the bus.” Regard:

Entering “wmdengggqchdshhou” gives the subordinated phrase:

Then pressing spacebar followed by “xyl” gives the rest of the sentence:

Then just a simple tap of the period key automatically commits “下雨了” and adds a chinese full-stop.

Happy iBusing!


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