From Fedora Project Wiki

Fix the dictionary proliferation problem


Fix the proliferation of dictionaries in the OS.


Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 9
  • Last modified: 2008-04-07
  • Percentage of completion: 100%
  • This is complete, all major applications and default GNOME/KDE spell checking now goes through hunspell. All that remains is to package dictionaries for the lesser used languages where there hasn't already been a sufficiently vibrant fedora-using language community that has taken up packaging a dictionary for their language.

Usage cases/rationale

We have separate dictionaries for each language for, Firefox, Thunderbird, and aspell (which gnome and KDE use). This is dumb.

Benefit to Fedora

We get code reuse, a smaller distribution, and a decreased memory footprint.


Requires changing the, thunderbird, firefox, and dictionary packages.

Test Plan

Test spell checking in all apps.




  1. Split out hunspell from - rhbz#214764 complete
  2. Make use it - rhbz#214764 complete
  3. Split out the dictionaries into separate packages - rhbz#218769 (english) complete
  4. Make use system dictionaries - complete
  5. Make gedit/xchat use it, i.e. enchant. enchant by default already generally prefers using hunspell over aspell, just needs to be told where the dictionaries are - complete
  6. Make evolution use it, i.e. gnome-spell. gnome-spell can be patched to use enchant to achieve this - rhbz#426347 complete
  7. Make tomboy/pidgin use it, i.e. gtkspell. Same story as gnome-spell - rhbz#245888 complete
  8. Make Firefox (and other gecko apps) use it - rhbz#218762 complete, upstream state is now resolved
  9. Make KDE use enchant and/or hunspell - complete - KDE 4 already defaults to enchant in Sonnet. (For K3Spell, see "legacy KSpell" below.) The aspell backend was dropped entirely in Rawhide. For kdelibs3:
    • The legacy KSpell uses command-line spellcheckers. Kevin Kofler wrote a patch to support hunspell, and kde-settings in Rawhide was changed to make it the default.
    • The newer KSpell2 API is plugin-based and uses libraries. It is what KDE 4's Sonnet is based on. Kevin Kofler backported Sonnet's enchant backend. The aspell and ispell backends were dropped in Rawhide.
    See the fedora-devel-list message.
  10. Remove copy of hunspell from enchant - rhbz#426402 complete
  11. Remove copy of hunspell from xulrunner complete
  12. Split enchant to have a separate enchant-aspell rpm to enable optionally removing the aspell support - rhbz#426402 complete
  13. Prefer hunspell over aspell as the default for install in comps. See table below for mis-match in language support. rhbz#439037 complete
  14. Repackage/replace the aspell dictionaries with hunspell dictionaries 80% see table below for language support


  1. Write an aspell compatibility layer so aspell apps can use the same dictionaries no volunteer -> deferred, is this neccessary at all ? All major desktop apps work now out of the box
  2. Make vim use hunspell - rhbz#219777 patch available, not necessary if vim continues to not use any spell-checking, but preferred over introducing built-in vim spellchecker which has yet another format which hunspell dicts are converted to for use


See table at

User experience

Should not affect user experience.

Contingency plan

Continue to ship older dictionaries.



Release Notes

There is a new default spell checking back-end, hunspell, for both the GNOME and KDE desktops, as well as applications such as, Firefox, and other XULRunner-based applications. This common back-end includes a set of shared, multi-lingual dictionaries for use with hunspell. This feature uses a single set of common dictionaries regardless of the application, which gives consistent suggestions for misspelled words and uses less diskpace by eliminating duplicate dictionaries.


Note that JDS is going down this route as well

The hunspell dictionary list of working dictionaries

The mozilla hunspell dictionary list of tri-licensed dictionaries

The firefox extension list of available language extensions

How to build a dictionary

How to convert an ispell affix to hunspell .aff

Language Codes

A somewhat related issue .

Will help on adding Indic hunspell dictionaries in Fedora - paragn.

php5 and bluefish still link to aspell at least - kmaraas. (It's not practical for me to port everything, just the core default installed components and the default spell-checking solutions for the main desktop environments and applications - caolanm)

Ubuntu is now following the Fedora practice as well.