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Input Method

An Input Method (IM) is a way to input specified set of characters and symbols, usually because a keyboard does not contain them.Chinese, Indic, Japanese. and Korean (CIJK) characters for example, cannot be found in a normal en_US keyboard.

  • iBus - intelligent input bus: next generation input method framework used in F11
  • SCIM is the default input method framework in Fedora 10
  • m17n maps for Indic and other languages
  • uim, a light multilingual input method framework
  • gcin for Traditional Chinese
  • kinput2 for Japanese
  • nabi for Korean

imsettings and im-chooser provide a modern control mechanism for input methods on the desktop.


Input method (IM): generic name which might cover any of the following:

Input method system: general system for input methods. (Sometimes also called a platform or framework.) e.g. iBus, Scim, IIIMF, uim.

Input method engine (IME): engine providing a specific input method for one or more languages: e.g. ibus-anthy, scim-pinyin, uim-m17n, etc

Input method map: m17n input map for a particular language, somewhat similar to a xkb layout but allowing more complex input: e.g. Inscript, iTrans, Phonetic input maps for Indic languages

Input method table: a linear table format simpler than a general map which can be compiled to a binary form which is efficient for large tables of Chinese characters or phrases, etc. eg tables for ibus-table or scim-tables.

Input method configuration tools: Tools that allow to configure your Input Methods, behavior, etc. e.g. im-chooser

Toolkits and Input Methods

GTK and Qt load their input method modules dynamically at runtime.

Warning (medium size).png
For advanced users only!
The information below is only intended for advanced users who are comfortable using environments to control their environment. General users are strongly recommended to use imsettings through im-chooser to control their desktop input method usage.

GTK IM modules

The input method module (gtk immodule) used by an GTK application can be overridden on the commandline by setting the environment variable GTK_IM_MODULE.

If there is no gtk input method configuration in place then gtk will choose a default immodule based on /etc/gtk-2.0/*-redhat-linux-gnu/gtk.immodules. To disable input method usage in a GTK application entirely, set GTK_IM_MODULE=gtk-im-context-simple.

Qt IM modules

The input method module (qt immodule) used by an Qt application can be overridden on the commandline by setting the environment variable QT_IM_MODULE.

Qt defaults to using XIM by default. To disable input method usage in a Qt application entirely, set QT_IM_MODULE=simple.


An X Input Method server program needs to be running before it can be used in a legacy X application. The XMODIFIERS environment variable needs to be set in a special way to tell an X application which XIM server to connect to. E.g. XMODIFIERS=@im=SCIM would configure using the scim XIM server.


Members of the fedora-i18n team are working on development of ibus, imsettings and im-chooser.