When I use the VT (CTRL+ALT+F1),it will only display replacement characters for chinese, but from the alternative installation CD I can see, that it's actually possible to display chinese in the VT. How to enable this?

  • I booted into a chinese livecd. I hit ctl-alt-f1 to get to the console, and found it did not display chinese characters. I'm using a 10.10 ubuntu desktop iso. I had to install and run fbiterm to get the console to show chinese. Is your experience different? How so?
    – djeikyb
    Feb 12 '11 at 1:36
  • Also, when you installed ubuntu, did you install in english, or chinese? Please run locale and add it's output to your question.
    – djeikyb
    Feb 12 '11 at 5:43
  • I installed the german version of ubuntu. locale days de_DE.utf8 everywhere.
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 12 '11 at 22:04

I booted the 10.10 32-bit Ubuntu livecd, and chose what I'm pretty sure is simplified chinese (second to last option on the language menu). After it booted into the trial environment, I hit ctl-alt-f1, typed ls, and was rewarded with diamonds instead of chinese. I conclude Ubuntu does not include chinese support for console/tty. Otoh, everything works wonderfully inside Gnome.

Fortunately, you can add chinese tty support. Install fbiterm and run it on a tty. It's a frame buffer that can deal with non-latin characters. I don't know yet how to make fbiterm used by default.

@FUZxxl, running fbiterm on a fresh install of Ubuntu 10.10 in VirtualBox gives me your error Frame buffer device /dev/fb0: Open error. I found an UbuntuForum.org thread that suggests you need to load the kernel module that allows frame buffers. It's a bit old..here's what I did:

  1. Edit /etc/initramfs-tools/modules. Add to the end of the file on separate lines: fbcon and vesafb.

  2. Edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer and uncomment vesafb.

  3. Run: sudo update-initramfs -u -k all.

  4. Make sure you have a vga line set in /etc/default/grub. Example: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="vga=0x314"

  5. Run update-grub.

Now you can reboot and run fbiterm at the virtual console.

  • Thank you very much for this answer. To you know, which solution is used by the ubuntu alternate installer?
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 10 '11 at 18:57
  • Hm... Very bad. They all don't work on my machine. Maybe it's an issue with the nvidia driver.
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 11 '11 at 6:29
  • First, the screen goes black.
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 12 '11 at 18:05
  • Than nothing happens. If you change to another VT and back, there appears another message: Frame buffer device /dev/fb0: Open error. I guess it's something about the nVidia driver (as always...)
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 12 '11 at 19:04
  • I wouldn't give up yet. I reproduced the error without using an nvidia gfx driver.
    – djeikyb
    Feb 13 '11 at 9:45

I think, true "text mode" VT uses text video mode, so it's limited to 256/512 different chars at the same time. I don't know too much about the Chinese language, but I guess it has much more "letters" that other languages having an "alphabet" with 26 letters or so :) Though, I think Ubuntu uses framebuffer VT console (not text VGA mode based), so maybe in theory it's possible to do ...

  • Do you know Clonezilla? If you start it, it will ask you for language settings. For instance, it will say 正體中文. As you can clearly see, clonezilla uses something VT-alike, so it couldn't be that difficult.
    – FUZxxl
    Feb 12 '11 at 18:02
  • Looking at ps -e|grep fb, /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf, and lsmod|grep fb, Ubuntu does not use a framebuffer. Confirmed with 10.04 and 10.10.
    – djeikyb
    Feb 13 '11 at 4:19

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