The methods available for a Linux computer depend on the Linux distribution and on the desktop being used. Generally it is easy and convenient to configure your system for Esperanto, usually using the GUI tools available. Obviously we cannot test all distros, but we have tested some of the more popular ones. The version numbers in brackets below are the ones that we have tested. If your distro is not one of these, hopefully you will find enough similarity with one or two of the methods described here, for you to explore your menu system and find how to set up the Esperanto keys on your system.
Add the key combinations for the accented letters to your usual layout
In Ubuntu with Gnome and iBus (e.g. in Ubuntu 18.04) there are two methods. The first requires that the package ubuntu-tweaks be installed. Run the Tweaks application, choose Keyboard & Mouse > Additional Layout Options > open “Adding Esperanto supersigned letters” > choose one of the options, for example, “To the corresponding key in a QWERTY layout” > open the item “Key to choose the 3rd level” > select at least one of the available keys, for example, Left Win > close the window.
The second method requires installing the package ibus-m17n. Then go to Settings > Region & Language > press the + button in the Options section > choose Esperanto > choose Esperanto (plena (m17n)) > click button Add > Close. Go to the language switcher in the toolbar and select the layout Esperanto (plena (m17n)).
In Gnome (e.g. in Ubuntu 10.04) choose the menu items System > Preferences > Keyboard. Then choose the tab Layouts and the desired layout, e.g. USA. Click on the button Options. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In Unity (e.g. in Ubuntu 12.10), choose menu items System Settings > Keyboard Layout > choose a layout and click the button Options. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In KDE (e.g. Kubuntu 12.04 – 18.04, Mageia 4. Suse 12.1 is similar) choose menu K > System Settings > Hardware >Input Devices > Keyboard > Advanced > mark the box for “Configure keyboard options”. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In Cinnamon (Mint 17 – 21) choose Menu > Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Layouts > Choose the layout to which to add the Esperanto keys, e.g. “English (US)” > Options. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In Cinnamon (Mint 15) choose Menu > System Tools > System Settings > Regional Settings > Layouts > Choose the layout to which to add the Esperanto keys > Options. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In Cinnamon (Mint 14) choose Menu > System Tools > System Settings > Personal > Keyboard layout > Layouts. Go to the section “Set up the Esperanto keys” below in this page.
In most Current Linux systems (from 2013), you can use the program setxkbmap to configure the keyboard layout. Apparently this does not work in the latest versions of Ubuntu or Fedora. Any comments?
The command below (available since 2010) tells that program that for the layout us and its variant alt-intl (alternative international), use the left win key as a third level key and make the Esperanto accented letters accessible via the third level key with the appropriate letter key on a QWERTY keyboard.
This method is particularly useful in lightweight Linux systems which do not have a graphical application for configuring the keyboard layout options. Add this single line to your ~/.bashrc file (a hidden file in your home directory – create it if it is not there):
setxkbmap -layout "us" -variant "alt-intl" -option "lv3:lwin_switch,esperanto:qwerty"
If you are using a layout other than us:alt-intl then adapt the above command for your layout (and variant). If you don’t want to use the left win key, you can substitute the right alt key (ralt_switch), or some other key. In this case the following command may suffice:
setxkbmap -option "lv3:ralt_switch,esperanto:qwerty"
Reference for further options: http://www.x.org/releases/X11R7.5/doc/input/XKB-Config.html.
Set up the Esperanto keys
Expand the list item “Esperanto letters with superscripts”. Choose one of the three options, e.g. “To the corresponding key in a Qwerty keyboard”.
Then expand the list item “Key to choose 3rd level” and mark the key(s) that you want to use as the special key(s) for accented Esperanto letters e.g. Left Win. To finish, click on Close, and Close again.
Now you can type the accented letters, e.g. using Left-Win (or which ever key you selected) +Shift+U for Ŭ.
Typing the accented letters using dead keys
You can choose an international layout, such as US (Alternative international), or United Kingdom International (with dead keys), rather than the simple US layout. With such a layout you can type the accented letters in many languages (including Esperanto) using dead keys. For example, for a letter with a circumflex use the ^ key (Shift 6) and for a breve use the combination RAlt+Shift 9. These two special key combinations act as dead keys, i.e. they produce the character you want only after the next key has been pressed. It is a bit hard to type that last combination: hold down RAlt and Shift and then press 9, then press Shift (for upper case) and press the u, only then release RAlt.
In Cinnamon (e.g. Mint 17 – 21) use the menu items Preferences > Keyboard > Layouts > click on “+” > choose an arrangement from the long list, e.g. “English (US, alternative international)” > Add.
In Gnome (e.g. Ubuntu 10.4) choose the menu System > Preferences > Keyboard. Then choose the tab Layouts. To add a layout choose Add, choose the tab By language and for Language choose a list item e.g. English, and choose one from the list of Variants e.g. the list item US (Alternative international).
In KDE (e.g. Kubuntu 10.04 – 18.04), choose K > System Settings > Hardware > Input Devices > Keyboard > Layouts > mark Configure layouts > +Add > set to English, English (US), English (US, intl, with dead keys) > OK > Apply.
In LXDE (e.g. Mint LXDE), select Computer > Applications > Preferences > Lxkeymap. In the lefthand list choose a country, e.g. United States, and in the righthand list choose a Variant, e.g. International with dead keys. Click on Apply and close the window.
In Fedora 28 go to: Activities > Settings > Region & Language > Input Sources > + > English (United States) > English (US, intl., with dead keys). Then go to the language chooser in the toolbar and select the layout English (US, intl., with dead keys).
In Fedora 25 click on the round symbol at top right of the screen to go to All Settings > Region & Languages > Input Sources > and click on “+” and then the three vertical dots, and type, for instance “english”, and choose English (US, international with dead keys) > Add, and close the dialog. Go to the top right corner of the screen and click on the language chooser. Choose the layout that you want to use. You can change it at any time.
In Ubuntu (versions 14.04, 15.04, 16.04) iBus is also used but the options are less extensive. To change the keyboard layout go to: System settings > Text entry > + > English (UK, international with dead keys), or choose some other layout.
Note on using an “international” keyboard arrangement
When you use a so-called “International” keyboard, the key which has the two symbols “ and ‘ on it also acts as a dead key. That means that to type a double quote or an apostrophe one has to press that key twice (with Shift for a double quote) or type that key once and then the space-bar.
A retroactive key is like a dead key except that you type it after the letter you want the accent over, instead of before. For example if x is designated as the retroactive key, when you type cx you get ĉ. This method is usually called x-system or h-system, etc. For instance:
In Ubuntu with Gnome and iBus (e.g. in Ubuntu 18.04) one requires the package ibus-m17n to be installed. Go to Settings > Region & Language > press the + button in the Options section > choose Esperanto > choose “Esperanto (x-sistemo (m17n))” > click button Add > Close. Go to the language switcher in the toolbar and select the layout “Esperanto (x-sistemo (m17n))”.
Fedora 22 with Gnome, click on the circular symbol in the upper right tool bar, click on the tool symbol for All Settings > Keyboard > Input Sources, and click on the “+” sign, then the three vertical dots, and type “esp” in the field at the bottom of the dialog. Choose for instance “Esperanto (x-sistemo (m17n)), Add, and close the dialog. Go to the top right corner of the screen and click on the language chooser. Choose the layout that you want to use. You can change it at any time.
Inserting a special character
Many programs have menus for inserting special characters, but the methods described above are much more convenient for serious work in Esperanto.
All Linux systems have a way to set up a compose key. Here are two examples.
In Gnome (Ubuntu 18.04) you need to have installed the package gnome-tweak-tools. Open Activities > Tweaks > Keyboard & Mouse > click Disabled next to the Compose Key setting > turn on the switch in the dialog and pick the keyboard shortcut you want to use > choose the key that you want to set as the Compose key > close > close.
In KDE (Kubuntu 18.04) go to K > System Settings > Hardware > Input Devices > Keyboard > Advanced > mark “Configure keyboard options” > “Position of compose key” > choose a key (e.g. Caps Lock) > Apply.
In order to input the letter “ĝ”, type: CapsLock, ^, g; (where ^ means Shift 6).
In order to input the letter “Ŭ”, type: CapsLock, u, U; (where U means Shift u).