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Installing and Configuring Language Support

                by B.H.

Vinux installs in English by default, but language support exists for many languages. Translations and language packs exist for both core OS components as well as most software you install, however translation availability varies from package to package. Even if you select the language you want during installation you will still likely need to add some language support packages, or you may need to add additional languages later.

While in Vinux3.x the graphical language support interface is accessible it can be a bit tedious to use at times, and in Vinux4.0 the language-support GUI is not usable via Orca at this time. Most of what is discussed here is done on the command line although some GUI options/functionality is also discussed; so, open a gnome-terminal, or better yet log-in to a VT console and with in a few minutes you should have your new language(s) installed and ready to use.

The process is relatively quick and easy, but some language-support-packages can be fairly large so things can take a while with slower connections.

Preparation and Installation

To see which language packs are not yet installed for a given language run-

check-language-support -l langcode

where langcode is replaced with the two letter code for the language you want to install. save this command's output. I find speakup;s copy and paste feature the easiest way to do this, but you could Use Script to Log Your Work in the console or terminal, or pipe the command's output to a text file. For example

check-language-support -l fr > ~/Desktop/lang-pkgs.txt

will pipe a list of uninstalled French language-support packages to a file called lang-pkgs.txt on your Desktop, in your ~/Desktop dir in other words.

now if you'be not recently updated your package databases do

 sudo apt-get update 

and finally paste in the packages that were listed by the first command in place of lang-pkgs in the following command.

sudo apt-get install lang-pkgs


To make your new language the system default you will need to change data in two files, /etc/default/locale and ~/.map_environment changing en_US, or what ever language code is there for the language you want to use. These files can be changed with the editor of your choice, I like ed for this kind of thing when I'm working in the CL because it's so easy to change multiple appearances of a given string using regular expressions. Gedit has an excellent search and replace function if you are editing in the GUI. You can use the update-locale command to change the default system language instead of opening an editor like

sudo update-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8

changing en_US.UTF-8 for appropriate values. Try

locale -a

to see all the available options with the language packs installed on your system. You'll have to log-out and back in, or reboot for changes to take effect. Unless you have changed default settings you will be asked if you wish to add default folders, Documents, Downloads Music, etc., in the new default language after logging back-in. If you are making a new account this is simple enough, but if you have worked in one language for a while these default folders are likely not empty, so you must decide which names you want to use, and if it is the new one you will need to move contents in to the newly created folders.

Tip: If people who do not speak the same language will be using the same account then you could make sym-links to the folderss in the original language that contain content, e.g.

ln -s /home/usr/Desktop /home/usr/Escritorio

to give alt Spanish names to existing English folders. Replace usr with the name of the user account being adapted. I like to add keyboard layouts from the GUI keyboard menu found in system settings, or in the personal menu of the classic menu indicator in Vinux4. In Vinux3 look for keyboard layouts in prefferences in the system section of the main menu. There you can test a layout before going on to save it. You can also choose which key combination(s) you want to use to switch between layouts from an extensive list of options. A detailed explanation of the keyboard settings interface is beyond the intended scope of this article, but one option to look for lets you choose between changing all windows at once to a new keyboard layout or changing them individually. Once a second keyboard layout is added to your account configuration you should see an indicator applet that lets you switch between them. This process can be repeated to add the languages that you need and want, and on multi-user accounts each user can switch from system default to any language whos support has been installed.

Switching Languages and Tiing Up Loose Ends

You can switch languages on the log-on screen. In Vinux4 use f10 to get to system icons, left arrow to the language switcher, and up and down arrows to get to the language you want. Enter, and log-in normally.

Once you are logged in you will of course want to select the new language in Orca and once you have speech configured probably save a new Orca-profile.

Remember that users whos accounts do not have admin privileges will not be able to install language support packages in most cases.

Tip: To manually change language for Speakup and self-voicing apps edit /etc/speech=dispatcher/speechd.conf, and or ~/.speech-dispatcher/speechd.conf if the latter exists on your system. Edit speechd.conf following the comments found in the file itself.

language_support.txt · Last modified: 2013/07/03 14:27 (external edit)