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Enabling Tamil input method on Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTD (Dapper Drake) is so sweet and simple. Here is an HowTo on that. It involves three steps:

1. Enabling Extra Repositories:

  • System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager
    1. Settings -> Repositories
    2. In the Installation Media tab, click Add. There are three separate repositories; Dapper Drake, Security Updates and Updates. Select each repository and check Officially supported, Restricted copyright, Community maintained (Universe) and Non-free (Multiverse). Ensure you click OK between each repository to save your changes
    3. You should now see those three repositories under Channels. Make sure Officially supported, Restricted copyright, Community maintained (Universe) and Non-free (Multiverse) appears under each repository
    4. To refresh the list of known packages (equivalent to apt-get update)
      • Edit Menu ->Reload Package Information

2. Installing Tamil Fonts

Search for following packages in Synaptic Package Manager and install the same with all dependencies:

1. ttf-tamil-fonts
3. Installing SCIM Input Method

Search for following packages in Synaptic Package Manager and install the same with all dependencies:

1. scim 2. scim-gtk2-immodule 3. scim-tables-additional

How to type in Tamil:

1. Open Gedit Editor through Applications -> Accessories -> Text Editor.

2. Right-click at Text area, select Input Method -> SCIM Input

3. You can notice a small toolbar at the bottom right of the screen. Select Tamil Keyboard layout from the menu on that toolbar.

4. Start typing in the text editor. You will get Tamil characters.

Happy editing hours with Tamil. Let us take Tamil to next generation!

Note: I don’t have access to Ubuntu right now. So any correction and omissions on this posting is welcome.



    • sridhar sivaraman
    • Posted October 13, 2006 at 4:20 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Thanks for your reply and this post. I could type tamil using scim in linux.
    But firefox and open office does not support the scim it seems due to which i could not type in tamil using phonetics in those applications.
    since i don’t know tamil typing i cannot use the unicode tamil keyboard given by ubuntu. also my firefox shows all tamil characters jumbled though i have set the environment variable for PANGO. hope you could help me on this too. thanks once again for your support since it is people like you who enable me to switch to linux from windows completly.


  1. To get scim work with firefox and openoffice, here is my posting to make scim as default input method:

  2. Hi! Thanks for the how to! I am using 5.10 breezy/ It does not have the tamil-phonetic in its tables! Any idea of getting it worked on it?!

    Thanks in advance!!

  3. Hi Eswar,
    Have you installed scim-tables-additional? Tamil is available in this package. After installation, you may have to restart scim, so you can logout and login to see the tamil in table.

  4. For easy Tamil writing, you can visit As it is webbased, you can use in any OS. Moreover, for Tamil Plugin for WordPress you can visit our main Website Here you can also get a software using which you can chat in Tamil on Yahoo messenger / google talk.

  5. If you are using Tamil from m17n, there is a version conflict. But it has been fixed in Ubuntu 6.10


  6. sridhar,
    to see the tamil rendering in firefox right:
    install the adds on grease monkey.
    install a script from this link

  7. The correct way should be to fix up Ubuntu so that when you select
    System/Administration/Language Support
    and you pick the Tamil language, you get automatically the packages installed.
    For this to work, you setup a pseudo-package that has as dependencies all those scim-* and ttf-* packages.

    In usability terms it is really bad to do these things manually.

  8. Thank you Σίμος! Ubuntu already has built-in Tamil support, as you said like System/Administration/Language Support. So as you said no-need to install pseudo package as you said.

    But by default supports only tamil typewriter keyboard kind of input method. But many don’t know tamil typewriting. For those people SCIM based tamil input method is quite useful. Here people are talking about this scim based additional tamil input method. If we want we can make pseudo package like scim-tamil-support to enable the above functionality.

  9. It worked beautifully! மிக்க நன்றி!

  10. I want to send email thrugh tamil but i dont know tamil fonts&key bordlayout.i need freesoftware. Where i can downlode the software? pl’s help me .–thotavasu—

  11. I need tamilfonds &key bord layout . Help me to freedownlode –—-thotavasu–

  12. hi!!!

    it might be a nice idea going for tamil fonts.
    but the problem is with the keyboard layout , you have to search for keys and you have to get accustomed with it . that will take youur time

    instead i just went through the above comments, and i am using this quillpad thing, you need not know the keyboard layout, just have to know to speak tamil ,
    type in english and you will see it in tamil…. hope you would like it …. and solves your problem

  13. >but the problem is with the keyboard layout , you have to search for keys and you have to get accustomed with it . that will take youur time

    There is a keyboad layout in SCIM called as “Phonetic”, you can type tamil with english keys in keyboard (e.g): To get அம்மா, you have to type “Ammaa”.

  14. hi !

    i checked out the above comments,
    quillpad tool also does the same . you just have to type in ‘amma’ to get the output in tamil
    so its nice…. i feel comfortable with it that i dont have to download anything

    வாழ்க தமிழ் வளர்க தமிழ்

  15. please send to my mail on tamil key bord fonds

  16. tamil fonds

  17. Is it possible to choose/change scim language using shell command?

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  21. Hello


  22. I would like to type tamil language in english keyboard. Should i have to install any software’s or to buy any cds for installing or do u have any option to download.

  23. Hi i went through the above comments well i will try the same, to have tamil keys…

  24. hi,
    Thank you for this post. It worked very well in Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy gibbon). However there was another option in the System –> Preferences –> Keyboard –> Layouts
    => + Add –> Layouts (India) –> Variant (Tamil Unicode).

    Enabling This option and using short cut keys (defined in Group Shift/Lock Behavior in “Layout Option” in the same Keyboard preferences window) I was able to switch to and back from ‘tamil’ keyboard using the hotkeys in almost any application. Hope this helps for some who are finding difficulty with SCIM Tamil keyboard….

    Thanks once again for the post!!!

    நண்றி. மேன்மேலும் இதுபோன்ற நல்ல தகவல்களை தந்தருளுமாரு வேண்டிக்கொள்கிறேன்

    பாரத் காந்தி

    • செழியன்
    • Posted August 13, 2008 at 4:07 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply


    மிகவும் பயனுள்ள தகவல். இதனால்.. SCIM – இல் தமிழ் தட்டச்சு செய்யத் தெரிந்து கொண்டேன்.

    – செழியன்

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