Monday Sep 21, 2009

Newest Xkeyboard-config added to OpenSolaris

In latest OpenSolaris build (OpenSolaris build 124) and Solaris Nevada (snv_124), the newest xkeyboard-config has been integrated. Xkeyboard-config is the primary source of the XKB data (All Keyboard related data for Xorg server. Xkeyboard-config project which is a project of the freedesktop.org is actively maintained and used by numerous user communities.

Current xkeyboard-config version is v1.6 which has been delivered a couple of months ago; contains many more new keyboard layout symbols for several countries and regions of the world, more variants for existing and for new keyboard layouts, support for additional models of physical keyboards, updated geometries and keycodes, and such that are 100% compatible with other Linux distributions and also widely accepted by
various user communities in the world, several bugs fixed and new configuration components added...

[Read More]

Keyboard Layout configuration using HAL

A couple of months ago; Solaris Nevada and OpenSolaris started using HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). Now, all Input Device Configuration is done through HAL rather than xorg.conf.

HAL, uses XML files for its configuration and store them in  /etc/hal/fdi/policy/ directory. The syntax of these files is very intuitive and if you have ever modified xorg.conf file, you will find it very simple to work with these files.

Before HAL was integrated, some people used to configure their Keyboard Layout and Keyboard Settings using xorg.conf but since HAL integration this configuration is not working any more...

[Read More]

Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

Switching keyboards in OpenSolaris using setxkbmap and keyboard shorcuts

As current OpenSolaris 2008.11 binary distro have several options how to change keyboard layouts, there are still some issues reported by users which are a bit confused about Input Method Switcher GUI, which is default tool to switch between various input methods and keyboard layouts. From any reason if you not satisfied with the tool or keyboard layout there is not the one you need there is still option which can bring all the comfort of switching between keyboard layouts using your preferred shortcut.

The solution is based on setxkbmap utility and desktop shortcuts. OpenSolaris is using GNOME by default by almost all other window managers provide possibility to create custom keyboard shortcut, which is all what is needed.

[Read More]

Tuesday Dec 16, 2008

Customizing Input Methods in Solaris and OpenSolaris

Customizing IIIM (Internet/Intranet Input Methods) in Solaris & OpenSolaris

A frequently asked question these days is how to customize IIIM (Input Methods) in OpenSolaris; it is difficult to find any value information on how to work with or how to modify the IIIM. There are some projects being developed to make IIIM more user-friendly but most probably they wont be finished soon, or at least they have not been finished yet.

I played a bit with IIIM data on my installed system and I was able to customize my keyboard layout with Input Methods; it might not be a very elegant way how to do it, but it works and it is very easy to do, so here is it...[Read More]

Monday Sep 22, 2008

Learning Chinese - How To Write Tones in Pinyin on OpenSolaris

  More and More people are learning Chinese nowadays and one of the most popular and used latin transcript is Pinyin. As Chinese is a tone language, tones are written above syllables using  different "marks" :

1. First tone: " ¯ "  (bāo)
2. Second tone: " ´ "  (báo)
3. Third tone: " ˘ "  (băo)
4. Fourth tone: " ` "  (bào)

  So how to write pinyin with all those tones marks on OpenSolaris or Solaris ? Actually almost all of them it's quite easy, well for some you might get in troubles, but Sun is working on it and hopefully full support will be available soon.

  Before starting writing pinyin you need to know what's compose key is. Thanks to this key you can combine vowels with required tones ...[Read More]

Thursday Apr 03, 2008

Keyboard Gaps in Solaris

One of the role of globalization team is to provide seameless input to any SW system.


As for Solaris, there are several ways how to achieve this goal described in previous blog recently. Shortly:
  • Using Input Method Framework (IIIMF Properties panel)
  • Using kbd utility
  • Setting up the settings for Xorg, especially if you are dealing with multiple keyboard layouts
There are several projects defined in order to improve keyboard support in Solaris. Some of those projects were already  integrated to Nevada, some of them will be delivered to Solaris very soon.
  1. setxkbmap utility porting to Solaris
    This utility can change keyboard maps on fly and it was already integrated to Nevada build 85. See more ...

  2. Create interface(s) between Xorg/Xlib and Input Method Framework (IIIM Properties) that can be used to query and set keyboard layout for the current Xorg server.

  3. Update Input Method Framework (IIIM Properties) to set Xorg keyboard layout dynamically (on fly).

  4. Add Virtual keyboard support, so it can be used for various layouts for all languages.

  5. Increase the coverage in SunOS keyboard layouts.

  6. Increase the coverage of keyboard layouts for console during Solaris installation.

  7. Increase the coverage in Xorg XKB keyboard layouts. Integrate additional keyboard layouts available in Xorg to Solaris.

  8. Publish "Sun Standard" Keyboard maps in cooperation with i18n OS.o UserGroups for all languages in Solaris. The draft version has been created and published at genuix.org sites.

Tuesday Mar 18, 2008

setxkbmap in Nevada!

setxkbmap has been integrated into Solaris Nevada! It is a command which allows users to switch between different keyboard layouts on-the-fly. This command, maps the keyboard using the layout determined by different options specified on the command line. Although it still has some minor issues to be fixed in Nevada, it is a very useful program for those looking for an alternative of IIIMF on switching keyboard layout on-the-fly. Unlike IIIMF, setxkbmap is not character encoding dependent, it means that it works not only for UTF-8 but also for ISO and other locales.

setxkbmap sets the keyboard layout using the X keyboard Extention. The source for all of the components used can be found in /usr/X11/lib/X11/xkb/ directory.

The source of all keyboard maps is taken from /usr/X11/lib/X11/xkb/symbols/"kb_layout" where "kb_layout" is the name of the keyboard layout in the above directory.
e.g. es, fr, ru, cz, etc...

As I mentioned before there are some issues to be fixed:

- the most important is probably that setxkbmap has by default its path to the source of all xkb components in /usr/X11/share/X11/xkb directory like other Unix OS, but Solaris has its xkb source in a different directory (/usr/X11/lib/X11/xkb), I believe that this issue will be fixed soon but for now you must add the correct path manually (at least for the 'rules' file). You will need to do that just once because 'rules' file will be remembered until you restart your Xserver.

$ setxkbmap -rules /usr/X11/lib/X11/xkb/rules/xorg

- Another issue is that user don't have by default path to the 'setxkbmap' command, so in case you don't like typing /usr/X11/bin/setxkbmap each time you want to switch your kb layout; you can add /usr/X11/bin to your path.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

Switching Keyboard Layout in Solaris

I'm quite often answering questions related to keyboard input and how to switch the keyboard layout. First of all it is possible and it is not really as difficult ;) Solaris made a significant progress in keyboard input area and there is also a GUI and platform independent framework for it. So if you need a specific keyboard layout you have basically to options: 1) to use IIIMF and its preference editor 2) to set up a Xserver I recommend the first option, but there are some constrains. So if that doesn't work for you there is still the second option and you can set up a Xserver in the same way as it can be setup on all systems using Xorg.[Read More]
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Solaris l10n & i18n, locales, keyboards, fonts and related topics.

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