Re: [tamilinix] Writing in Tamil on Linux: My Experiences
- Dear all
This is a rather long overdue posting on this thread that I had
participated in late November 2004 on my layman experiences with tamil
keyboard layouts. Among those I had then discussed, one was ISIS. The
use of ISIS in linux platforms is restricted to GNOME desktop environs
and Unicode encoding combination only, that too for only Mandrake
versions, Fedora (Cores 2 and 3) and Red Hat versions. ISIS (on linux)
is a qwerty based phonetic layout closer to GTK2IM-TamilVP (than to
GTK2IM-Anjal) with minor variations.
I had then stated that the ISIS as having a major shortfall of no keys
assigned for ங (U+0B99), ன (U+0BA9) and ழ (U+0BB4) respectively. One
more that I had similary not found a keystroke for at that time was ஞ
(U+0B9E). Well, sometime in January 2005, I got an off-list
clarification mail from Gautam Sengupta, who is the developer of the
ISIS keyboard and he is also Professor of Applied Linguistics, Center
for Applied Linguistics & Translation Studies, University of Hyderabad.
He pointed out to me the keystrokes for these. My many thanks to Gautam.
The key strokes for the said 4 are as follows (if someone is interested
in trying out ISIS:
To get ங (U+0b99) we need to type xm (x followed by m).
to get ன (U+0ba9) type ;n (semicolon followed by n)
to get ழ (U+0bb4) type ll (a sequence of two lowercase Ls)
to get ஞ (U+0b9e) type xn (x followed by n)
Thus if we take all the tamil base characters in Unicode standard - I
mean: 01 Ayutham (ஃ), 12 Uyirs (Vowels) and 18 Meis (consanants) as well
as 4 granthas (ஜ,ஹ,ஸ,ஷ) - for all these the ISIS layout (in Linux) has
qwerty based phonetic keystroke assignments. Only for the above 4
(ங,ன,ழ,ஞ) the respective keystrokes may not be easily found out using
intution alone by a new user, whereas the keystrokes for all other
characters can be guessed very easily, as is typical with any of the
other qwerty based phonetic schemes.
One more key (by all means an important one) I should mention is the one
for "pulli" (dot) - like the key q in GTK2IM-TamilVP, it is the key \
that is used in ISIS. For example to get க் the keystrokes are k\ (k
followed by \).
The website for ISIS is http://www.bangla.name/isis/ - or to get to the
site for linux versions quickly, the URL is::
It gives the links for downloads (for RH 8 & 9, FC 2 & 3 and Mandrake)
and also instalaltion guide. I have tried this in MDK 10.0 & 10.1 and FC
3. I found it to be at its best in FC3 in which only in OpenOffice &
Gedit it has some problems that I haven't sought answers for yet but it
works well in all of K-Office, K-edit, Mozilla / Firefox / Epiphany and
For those of you interested in trying out ISIS there is also a forum run
by the devleopers at:
> iamAs I understand this, I think you want to display an application
> intrested to know that how the menus and other text
> fonts are changed. plz any body in this group idea
> about that plz send me the detials. I want to develop
> a Notepad and thats menuse look like in tamil fonts.
> so plz send me the programs or deatialed documenation
> about that.
where the menus show up in Tamil. To do this, you could do the
1. Create the application using whatever GUI toolkit you want (gtk or
2. Use GNU gettext utility to extract the strings in your application.
The strings extracted will be written in a special files called PO
files. Check out PO file format for details.
3. Translate the message strings in PO files to tamil.
4. Compile the PO files to MO files using 'msgfmt' utility.
Copy the MO files to the appropriate directory
(usually /usr/share/locale/ta/LC_MESSAGES/ )
5. Set locale to tamil and launch your application.
$ LANG=ta_IN ./application
This should have given you some idea on how to procede. If you stumble
upon any specific problems, we will help you out. Good luck!
> How much free photo storage do you get? Store your friends 'n family snaps for FREE with Yahoo! Photos http://in.photos.yahoo.com
> Tamilinix webpage:
> Attachments are not permitted in this group.
> Yahoo! Groups Links