Japanese Input Support on Mandriva 2007 Linux…

I decided to try enabling Japanese input on my system this weekend. I did get it to work, and here is how:

  1. I first Googled it. ^___________^
  2. I then made sure the following language and font packages were installed:
    • fonts-ttf-japanese
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-extra
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-ipanoma
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-mplus_ipagothic
    • locales-ja
  3. I then made sure to install the following input packages and their associated libraries:
    • canna
    • scim-canna
    • skim-scim-canna
    • anthy
    • uim
    • prime
    • kinput2
  4. I made sure that canna and jserver services were running at startup: “chkconfig –add canna” and “chkconfig –add jserver” (run as root)
  5. I appended to /etc/sysconfig/i18n the following lines:
    • GTK_IM_MODULE=scim
    • QT_IM_MODULE=scim
    • XIM_PROGRAM=”scim -d”
  6. I restarted gdm, and got a keyboard icon in my tray area.
  7. I configured it and disabled all languages but English and Japanese, noting that CTRL + Space toggles it on and off.

Now, when either of us uses CTRL + Space and selects Japanese, we have a variety of methods to input Japanese, whether it is katakana, hiragana, or kanji. This is on a standard US keyboard (no Japanese keys). The method we like best is Prime, which allows hiragana and kanji input, a list of selections as you type, and other options. I also set the list to be verticle.  In a nutshell, I took a shotgun approach to packages, installing everything related to japanese, canna, anthy, uim, scim, skim, and prime, excluding those packages applying to other languages.

I did have a big problem after modifying the i18n file, however. Firefox would no longer open. After much digging, I found that the problem was that we were using the Mozilla build of Firefox, not the distro-supplied build. The distro-supplied build was compiled on a more recent version of gcc than the Mozilla build, and after I switched a few icon paths around, we were back in business. From what I read, this would also affect Thunderbird users in the same manner. So either use the distro-supplied version if you run into this problem, or compile from source (make sure to compile in SCIM support).

This method of enabling Japanese input seems to work globally across the desktop, regardless of the application. Remember, though, YMMV.

The pages that best helped me out for this are:

  1. Troubleshooting Firefox and SCIM: scim-im.org troubleshooting article
  2. Enabling Japanese input globally: http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~apricots/scim-anthy/howto.html

6 Responses

  1. Great stuff! I was going mad trying to do it! Only thing that did not work for me was the chkconfig –add jserver that failed saying error reading information on service jserver: No such file or directory. What is that supposed to do?

  2. Well, Bamboccio, jserver is installed as part of the kinput2 package, so off the top of my head, I would see if it is just a symbolic link that is missing or a misplaced directory. Try running “updatedb” as root, wait for it to finish, and then “locate kinput2” or “locate Wnn”. Look in /etc/ for kinput2, jserver, or scim directories and config files.

    Failing that, check the logs (/var/log/messeges).

    If there is still no clue, I would Google the service error message. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  3. Hello Symbolik,

    My company uses Linux and I really would like to respond to some Japanese client’s email in Japanese. I can read their email but can not write Japanese. At home I have Japanese global IME but if I’m not mistaken, that doesn’t work with Linux. For your information, our email system here is Thunderbird. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction!!!

    Yoroshiku Onegai itashimasu.


  4. Adriana – sorry this is late, but I have been on vacation for a while, and just got back.

    1. You can install (dual-boot) Linux at home if you do not have it, and see if this article works for you, or…

    2. You can see if your tech support at your workplace can support your requirements (shouldn’t be too hard to convince them). Once installed on a Linux system in the manner above, it should apply globally, so whatever e-mail or web client you use, you should be able to input Japanese characters.

    I am assuming you cannot access your email from home due to security reasons, since you can run Thunderbird email client on Windows, so maybe…

    3. Your tech support folks can set up a VPN solution that would allow you to work on your email from home. This would probably be the easiest solution.

  5. If you need japanese support for linux, do not waste you time, install last Ubuntu – 7.10. http://www.ubuntu.com You do not have to do anything, just add japanese language – just like in Windows. Works perfect, gfonts input and printing are nice. No worries any more. Finally I can say Goodbye to Windows.

  6. Igor, this article was written a while back for Mandriva – I wrote a more recent one for Kubuntu (7.04, I think), so it may be dated info by now.


    Still, I had to create the missing file before I had Japanese input available on all logins. Let me know if you are using GNOME or KDE- perhaps that makes a difference.

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