[Solved] Change keyboard language in XFCE

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[Solved] Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby M_Mynaardt on Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:34 am

Hi there!

Something I'd like to be able to do from time to time is type something within an English document that's in another language. Specifically either Spanish or Polytonic (i.e. Ancient) Greek. However, I can't figure out how to do this. I'd just like to be able to change the keyboard temporarily while in a document to another language, type a little bit of that, and then switch back to the default keyboard.

Any suggestions?

Thanks much!
Last edited by M_Mynaardt on Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby kalwisti on Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:42 am

This is easy to set up:

1. Right-click on your bottom panel.
2. Choose "Add New Items."
3. Scroll down and find the "Keyboard Layouts" applet.
4. Click on the Add button.
5. Choose "Add layout."
6. Scroll down and pick the the layouts you want. In your case, that would be
6.a. Greece > Polytonic
6.b. Spain (which has several variants to choose from) or
6.c. Latin American (also has several variants).
7. Click the OK button to add the layout to your panel.

I'm not sure if there is an easy way to display a map of the keyboard layout. (If there is, I hope that someone will chime in). The for-dummies method I use is to start up Mousepad or a word processor (Abiword, OpenOffice.org Writer) and type the keys one at a time, beginning with the top row of numbers, then qwertyuiop etc. and work my way down to the bottom row of the keyboard.

Then repeat this with capital letters (using the Shift key), and again with Control and Alt combinations. It will probably take some trial and error to find all the characters and diacritical marks you need to produce -- especially with the Polytonic Greek (smooth and rough breathing marks, iota subscript, etc.).
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Re: Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby M_Mynaardt on Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:35 pm

Well, that didn't go too well!

I right clicked on the panel; no problem there. However, there was no keyboard applet to be seen! I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything that could've tampered with that panel bit. I added some panels of my own, but I'm certain I didn't delete anything then?

What should I do to fix that up?
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Re: Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby kalwisti on Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:25 pm

Hmm, it's curious that you don't have a Keyboard Layouts applet listed ... Within that window, they are listed in alphabetical order, so I believe you when you say that it's not there.

My best guess at the moment is for you to check if the following packages are installed in your system:

xfce4-xkb-plugin
xkb-data
x11-xkb-utils

You can do this by starting up the Synaptic Package Manager (located under the Mint menu > System > Synaptic Package Manager). I've attached a screenshot below so that you'll know how it looks.

Immediately after starting Synaptic, click on the blue "Reload" button in the upper left-hand corner of its toolbar. (This will reload / update the package list from Mint's official repository). Then type "xfce4-xkb-plugin" (without the quotation marks) into the "Quick search" box and click on the "Search" button -- or just hit your Enter / Return key.

If these packages are installed, they will have a green-colored square beside their name. If they haven't been installed, the square will be empty (white).

If they aren't installed and you wish to install them, click on the line with the package name to highlight it. Then right-click on that line and choose the option "Mark for Installation." After that, click on the Apply button and then Apply again. (Note: If the package to be installed requires other packages to function properly -- these are known as "dependencies" -- Synaptic will alert you and allow you to install the dependencies also).
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Re: Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby M_Mynaardt on Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:04 am


Wooo! Hooo!
It works now!
:mrgreen:



And I learned about that Synaptic package manager in the process too! Cool! 8)

For whatever reason, xfce4-xkb-plugin was not installed, although both xkb-data and x11-xkb-utils were installed.

Then I was able to get the foreign keyboards installed on my desktop pretty as you please! I like it! Kind of cute too; shows the flag of country in question, instead of a 3 letter abbreviation. That's a nice touch!
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Re: Change keyboard language in XFCE

Postby kalwisti on Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:51 am

Good news! I'm glad that was all you needed in order to solve the keyboard layout problem. If you will send me a private message and tell me what type of keyboard you have (e.g., 105-key generic PC - US, AZERTY, etc.), I think I can send you a PDF file of Polytonic Greek / Spanish keyboard layouts for that keyboard type. (There is a way to do this in Gnome but not in Xfce, AFAIK).

Now that you know about Synaptic, you can install other applications and try them out -- assuming that you have enough spare space in your root (/) partition. The great thing about a Linux distro's designated repository is that you can be certain that the software therein will work with your distro, and also that is "safe," i.e., no worries about viruses, malware, or spyware.

One thing to be mindful of is that although you have an Xfce base/core system, it is possible to install Gnome and/or KDE applications if you wish. (You could, for instance, install Evolution [for e-mail and calendaring], Okular [a PDF reader] or K3b [a CD/DVD burning app]. However, the "look and feel" of the program(s) might be slightly odd). Synaptic will pull in whatever Gnome or KDE-based dependencies a particular program needs to work and will install them; some applications will require lots of extra dependencies. So it is always a good idea to check this in Synaptic -- carefully review what will be installed before you press that "Apply" button for a second time and commit yourself.

The default apps in the Mint Xfce Community Edition are well chosen, in my opinion, but you might consider exploring some other Xfce applications. For a basic list, you can take a look at this thread from the PCLinuxOS User Forum:

http://www.pclinuxos.com/forum/index.php/topic,79047.0.html
"Basic Advise." 4 Sept. 2010

HTH,
=david
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