I'm using Lubuntu 13.10 and I'm trying to type Tamil characters in LibreOffice Writer

I have installed m17n packages and installed the keyboard layout Tamil - phonetic (m17n) from IBus Preferences as in this answer given for How do I turn on phonetic typing for Tamil? by jokerdino

I could see the iBus icon in the system tray and I could change the keyboard layout from English - English (US) to Tamil - phonetic (m17n) by using super + space keys or by clicking on the iBus icon from the system tray.

I couldn't type in Tamil even after changing the layout to Tamil - phonetic (m17n)

I also tried the layouts Tamil - tamil99, Tamil - itrans (m17n) etc. But I couldn't type a single Tamil character...

I wish to type in Tamil in my Instant Messengers, Browser, Writer etc.

  • Make sure the LibreOffice document is open and the cursor is in the right place when you switch to Tamil. If you change the keyboard layout to Tamil and then change the focus to the Window you want to type in, you will have to change the layout again. – user68186 Feb 5 '14 at 14:21
  • Thanks karel. I started using Google input tools. But I could use that tool only with in the browser. So I type in the browser and than copy the text and paste into the LibreOffice Writer or GIMP Editor etc. Sometimes I use the virtual keyboard Indic Onscreen Keyboard for small needs. – Prakash Thangavelu Feb 8 '14 at 9:10
  • Still I don't know why the tamil input is not working for me..? – Prakash Thangavelu Mar 18 '14 at 4:06
  • I want to use some TSCII fonts like "TSC Comic". I tried to input the text in libre office writer, abiwords, gimp, inkscape etc. But nothing is typed. The cursor is just blinking when I typing in the changed keybord layout. Only the charecters 'bfgx' are printing. Abiword and Inkscape showing the tamil charecters but typed...! – Prakash Thangavelu Mar 18 '14 at 4:12

Ubuntu 14.04 supports Tamil Language. It can be added by:

  1. In Settings > Language Support > Install/Remove languages > select Tamil and Install.
    Now Tamil Language Support is enabled.
  2. Installing Tamil Keyboards for Tamil typing in browsers, Libreoffice, etc.

    a. For Tamil Unicode Keyboard (Old Tamil Typewriter Layout)

    ⠀⠀In Settings > Text entry > click + and add Tamil Unicode Layout.

    ⠀⠀Now switching from English to Tamil Keyboard and vice versa can be done by pressing Super (Windows key) + Space. It can also be done by selecting the Keyboard Menu (displayed as En or Ta) at the top of the screen.

    ⠀⠀Onboard can be used for Tamil Unicode.

    b. For Tamil 99 Keyboard or Tamil Phonetic

    ⠀⠀i. Install ibus-m17n package from Ubuntu Software Center.

    ⠀⠀ii. In Settings > Languages Support > select ibus from the dropdown menu under Keyboard Input Method System.

    ⠀⠀iii. In Text Entry select +, now the search with keyword Tamil will show Tamil 99, Tamil Phonetic & other Tamil layouts. These can be added as per the requirements. Keyboards can be selected from the menu at the top of the screen.

    ⠀⠀Onboard does not work with Tamil 99, since it is installed through the m17n package and not by Ubuntu itself.

For more details relating to Tamil / Tamil 99 in Ubuntu see: http://oppili.wordpress.com/


Sometime it types after long time. Instead of Ibus I am using Tamil Unicode, for this you have to add tamil language under India in language support in settings and add Tamil Unicode layout in keyboard under settings. Use abiword or text editor for word, libre office not support words ending with letters like ik or im etc. Use Onboard to see the transparent Tamil keyboard in screen for faster typing with your English keyboard.


Libre Office, Tamil 99 & Tamil phonetic issues mentioned above were related to Ubuntu 12.10 version. These are working in Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.04 versions, see the other answer by me (oppili).

  • Thanks for your reply. Could I use the typing method 'Tamil99' in this..? – Prakash Thangavelu Feb 7 '14 at 7:23
  • I think Tamil tscii typewriter is for tamil99. It is not working. only Tamil Unicode works. can you file bug report with Ubuntu for both this tscii and I bus. I am typing this in phone. The laptop is my friends. – Oppili Feb 7 '14 at 10:55
  • Along with Tamil Unicode there is another keyboard layout "Tamil" which is working. It has a different set of keys than that of Unicode (Unicode resembles Tamil typewriter keyboard layout). I feel the plain Tamil layout is Tamil99 layout, pls check this. – Oppili Feb 7 '14 at 21:49
  • Thanks Oppili. Yes I'll report the bug. Temporally I'm using the virtual keyboard Indic Onscreen Keyboard – Prakash Thangavelu Feb 8 '14 at 9:00
  • @PrakashThangavelu Were you able to resolve the ibus issues and get it working? I wish to use the Tamil Phonetic keyboard via ibus, but facing the same problem - changing the layout in ibus does nothing, input continues to be in English. – sundar May 17 '18 at 18:36

I suffered a lot to be able to type in Tamil in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, but I finally solved the problem very easily:

First step

sudo apt-get update

second step

sudo apt-get install ibus-m17n

after installation select Text Entry and click +... you get "language pack already installed"... select Tamil 99(m17n)... finished!

Now an en symbol appears in the indicator (usually top right) and in one click (on the en) you can switch to the layout for your selected language... one minute's work. Even in LibreOffice this goes well.

  • 1
    yes, true, but this is already explained in this answer to the same question by Oppili, although that answer also covers other methods... – Zanna Jul 29 '17 at 17:34

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