How to Setup SCIM in Ubuntu : Guide To Setup

What is SCIM?

SCIM is a GTK-based input method engine for inputting non-English / non-ASCII characters in a GNOME/GTK environment. There is a KDE frontend called skim.

SCIM (smart common input method) is a platform for input methods. By providing input methods which are essential for CJK (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) users. The input method program accepts the input from keyboard, and transform it  to the language in which the user want to give input.

Obviously, there are many different languages for different input methods. SCIM aims to provide a common framework for different input methods so that they can have consistent GUI and central preference setting. This is very desirable for users of multiple input methods.

Quick Setup

SCIM is the name of the program which will allow you to input a CJK language in Ubuntu.

  • Open System>Administration>Language Support
  • You have to install the support package corresponding to the language which you want to give input.
  • under Ubuntu 8.10, 8.04, 7.10 and 7.04, you will have to check the box at the bottom (Input Method) to activate complex characters input.
  • You might have to uncheck it, click Apply, then check it again and click Apply.
  • then log out (System>Quit>Log Out), and login again.

On Ubuntu 8.10 and 8.04, you should be able to use SCIM input in any application (go to Using SCIM to learn how to do it). However, KDE applications in a Gnome session won’t have SCIM input enabled this needs to be completed. Also and a few applications like Skype and MSN might need a few more steps in order to enable SCIM input.

Under previous versions of Ubuntu, if your session is using a CJK language (for example, all your menus are in Chinese, Japanese or Korean) you should be able to do the same (go to Using SCIM to learn how to do it).

Using SCIM

SCIM should now start along with every application. To trigger it, use any of these shortcut keys : Control+Space, Shift+Space, Zenkaku_Hankaku(on Japanese keyboard), Hangul(on Korean keyboard)

While inputting, if you want to switch back and forth between your CJK language and your session language, you can just use the shortcut key, or even just the Shift key alone.

The Simplest Method to switch to SCIM 

1. Install your language support thru Administration/Language Support

2. Go to Administration/Keyboard/Layouts 

  • click +add and add the keyboard layout for the language you want e.g. Chinese
  • click close

3. Add to top panel “Keyboard Indicator” and when you restart Ubuntu you will see the keyboard icon on the top right of the screen.

4. Left-click and set your SCIM.

5. when you open Firefox or OpenOffice , you can use the new language 

  • You’ll need administrative rights for these kind of tasks, else ask your system administrator to install it for you.
  • You’ll need an Internet connection because these packages don’t fit on the Install CD.

Note for Xubuntu

Under Xubuntu 8.04, you will need to install scim-bridge-client-gtk via synaptic in order to successfully check the “Enable support to enter complex characters” option, in the Language Support menu