Configuring Mandarin Chinese Input on Debian Jessie with lib-pinyin and ibus

🕓 Jan 14, 2016

While there exists some documentation in the debian wiki about ibus configuration, I found that it was not the whole story.

I principally encountered issues with ibus-daemon not running, being unable to use ibus-setup to configure ibus ((ibus-setup:17151): dconf-WARNING **: failed to commit changes to dconf: Could not connect: Connection refused), lack of visual feedback, and interference between gnome and ibus in keyboard bindings.

  1. To get a satisfactory setup I ended up doing the following on Debian Jessie. You may not need all the ui bindings:

    sudo apt-get install im-config ibus ibus-libpinyin ibus-gtk3 ibus-qt4 ibus-gtk ibus-wayland
  2. Configure locales (may not be necessary):

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales # select zh-utf8 in addition to whatever others you may need
  3. Install fonts, see the debian wiki.

  4. Choose ibus xim (this was already the default on my system) as the default input mechanism:

    im-config -s xim # or just im-config and you'll have a ui
  5. Head over to modify the input settings, search for “Region & Language”

  6. Add new input source, select Chinese (Intelligent Pinyin)

  7. Once added, you can select, hit the gear icon that will appear next to the keyboard icon in the bottom-right.

  8. Configure ibus-libpinyin to your hearts desire.

Note: To change keyboard shortcuts for switching input sources, you may configure those as normal through the gnome settings.

Edit (2016-01-30): After using this set up for a I tweaked it slightly because ibus wasn’t consitently being started nor recognizing escape commands. From the instructions above, I have removed using im-config to use ibus by default. (im-config -s xim)