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Ubuntu 12, 13 & 14 Chinese Setup

A Quick Start Guide to
Chinese Setup, Input Methods, Fonts, and Other Features in

Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr),
Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander), 13.04 (Raring Ringtail),
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) & 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)


Ubuntu 12 logoUbuntu Chinese input: zhongwen shezhi


Installing Chinese fonts and input methods in Ubuntu 12, 13, and 14 is very similar to my instructions for recent versions, but you'll notice some differences in these screen shots.

If you cannot run the Unity interface, use my instructions for Ubuntu 10 Chinese setup, log into the Gnome interface, and try to install proprietary drivers for your graphics card. Ubuntu should automatically present this option to you shortly after your first login, if it finds a card that can use such drivers. Then you may be able to restart and boot into Unity.


Warning: Chinese input and display problems in Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.xx. For details on 13.10 problems, see my Saucy Salamander IME #fail FAQ. In 14.04 or 14.10 if your ibus-pinyin input method is broken, or if your Chinese text is replaced by "INVALID UTF-8", see my Ubuntu 14 Chinese bugs FAQ. Better still, use 13.04 or 12.04 LTS. Ideas? Please let me know.


No need to install a fully localized Chinese Ubuntu desktop. Just click EnglishAt the installation Welcome screen you will be asked to pick a display language, as shown on the right here. --->

It is not necessary to use a Chinese language desktop if you don't want to, because Chinese input methods are available in any locale. You can select "English" or another language now, and use Chinese menus later if you wish.


After installation, add language support:

After the installation is complete and you have logged in, you will find more than one way to get into the Language Support control panel. One is to click the menu at the upper right of the screen, and select System Settings:

Ubuntu 12 Settings menu


That will bring up the System Settings panel, where you'll find Language Support:

Ubuntu 12 : System Settings : Language Support


Another way to find Language Support is to click the Dash icon at the upper left (or press the Ubuntu (Windows) key on your keyboard), and type "Language" into the search box:

Ubuntu Dash : search for Language Support

Double-click the Language Support icon to open that panel.

For "Keyboard input method system", select "ibus" from the menu. (For info on adding the old SCIM framework to this menu, see the input methods page.) Then click the "Install / Remove Languages..." button:

Ubuntu Language Support panel


After clicking that button you will see the Installed Languages panel. Scroll to and click the languages you want to install:

Ubuntu Installed Languages panel : installing Chinese


After the file installation process is complete, log out and log back in:

Ubuntu 11 logout


In all versions through 13.04 there will now be a keyboard icon on the top panel:

Ubuntu input method keyboard menu icon

From 13.10 on this is replaced wtih a language icon indicating your current input method. In most cases will be there even before you do any additional language installation:

Ubuntu 1310 input method menu icon

If it's not there or isn't working don't worry...yet. IBus does that sometimes. Later you can set the floating language panel to always display, and you will be able to switch input methods using <Alt-Shift> if nothing else.

Note: if the keyboard/En icon never appears for you (even after logout/login as mentioned above) open Terminal and enter this:

im-switch -s ibus

Then logout and login again. You should see the keyboard icon now.


Next steps:

Ubuntu Chinese IMEs

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments and suggestions.

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