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Vietnamese keyboard … solved! February 24, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 6:34 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

In “Class Four” post I mentioned the need for Vietnamese keyboard. I also wrote to the support gang asking for help at  On Feb 17 I received two comments by Clytie Siddall, which have the solution. Today I followed the command in Terminal and that solved the problem!

Thank you, Vietnamese Free-Software Translation Team!

Here is the answer for all Vietnamese users ( also see comments to”Class Four” post):

“OK, almost instant reply from Sayamindu on the OLPC localization list:

“We use XKB on the XO-1s which supports Vietnamese input. However, there
might be a few hoops to jump through in order to enable the layout.

The easiest way to do this would be start up Terminal and issue the command:
setxkbmap -layout vn
To switch back to the normal US layout (if required), the command would be
setxkbmap -layout us -variant olpc

The other option would be edit /etc/sysconfig/keyboard in the laptops
and set the LAYOUT to vn and the VARIANT to basic.

Newer versions of Sugar support setting the keyboard layout from the
control panel (via a GUI), but OLPC does not ship that yet.”

You can use either of those methods. The most common Vietnamese keyboard

 layouts use number keys to provide extra vowels and add accents.

For example, on my favourite Mac layout:

1 = ă
2 = â
3 = ê
4 = ô
[ = ư
] = ơ
0 = đ
= = ₫ (currency symbol)

Added accents
5 = dấu huyền (grave accent)
6 = dấu hỏi (hook above)
7 = dấu ngã (tilde)
8 = dấu sắc (acute accent)
9 = dấu nặng (dot under)

Depending on the layout, you press the added-accent number key _before_ or _after_ the base vowel. If your layout doesn’t match mine above, just keep testing keys until you find the Vietnamese letters.

I strongly suggest enabling the Vietnamese layout by default, before distributing XOs to Vietnamese children. Any adult who’s used a computer in Vietnam should be familiar with the keyboard layouts. If you meet anyone who isn’t, please tell them about the ready availability of Vietnamese input and complete installs and GUI in Vietnamese, e.g. by using Debian (and GNOME and After all the work we’ve done, I tear my hair each time I hear about Vietnamese people still trying to struggle on by memorizing English words. “You can run your computer completely in Vietnamese, for free.” Please spread the word.

Clytie Siddall
Vietnamese Free-Software Translation Team”


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