Tag Archives: malayalam in linux

To read and type Malayalam

A computer represents an alphabet [technically called language script] using a number code. The coding scheme which is currently used (ASCII) however only represents the English alphabet and numerals and some special characters.

Unicode is a new encoding scheme which represents all alphabets in all languages in the world. In Unicode, Malayalam first letter ‘a’ (അ) is given the code number 3333. Similarly, different numbers are given for rest of Malayalam alphabets. The fonts that understand this new encoding scheme are called Unicode fonts.

To read and type Malayalam properly in your computer you have to use Unicode Malayalam fonts. [The same also applies to other languages; to read and type a particular language you need to have the Unicode font of that language.]

To work using  a Unicode font of a language, we also need,

  • The Operating System support for displaying that language script [in our case support for displaying malayalam]. This is technically called font rendering support. If the OS has no proper support, we may still be able to view the language but there will be errors. In Malayalam we usually have problems like ‘Chillu’ and ‘diacritics’ [കേ, കൊ] etc.
  • A system for inputting the language script to the computer. Operating Systems usually support keyboard layouts for different languages. Once enabled, we could use the normal keyboard for inputting. For example, typing button ‘K’ inputs malayalam script ‘ക’ (ka).
  • Applications supporting Unicode scheme. Like notepad, IE, Word, Firefox etc. Almost all of the programs of the latest Operating systems support Unicode.

Using unicode, you can read and create malayalam text and websites, blog and chat in malayalam, and even search google in malayalam, See here for an example of searching google in malayalam .

Now lets see how this can be accomplished in various Operating systems,

Windows 7

Windows 7 has by default support for reading and typing Malayalam.

You can view Malayalam webpages without doing anything special. Just check it out here.

If you like, you may install more Malayalam fonts like, AnjaliOldLipi, Raghu etc from here. Here is a picture of the fonts listed.

For typing,
1. Enable Malayalam typing by,
Control panel > ‘Change Keyboard or other Input methods’ (under section ‘Clock, Languages and Region’) > ‘Keyboard and Languages’ tab > Change keyboards… > General tab > click Add and choose Malayalam.
The layout for the Malayalam keyboard is the same Inscript layout shown here.
Now you can type Malayalam directly into any application.
Also check the ‘Language Bar’ tab. You can add a button on the taskbar for switching between Malayalam and English typing.

2. You can use Google transliteration IME to input Malayalam letters using the Mozhi scheme directly to any application. It has features like word completion.

3. You can use web based Google transliteration service , to type Malayalam in the transliteration scheme of Mozhi, and it will be converted to Malayalam automatically, Then you can copy paste it into your programs. Google transliteration service is also used in Orkut to input Malayalam.
The advantage of this method is that you can test typing, right after you setup viewing.

4. The options listed for Windows XP, like the Mozhi keyman, Varamozhi editor etc may work for windows 7 (I’ve not tested it).

Windows 95/98/Me/NT and 2000

These OS’s have no proper support for Malayalam script rendering. :(
Fortunately IE has good support and you can use it.

Install a Malayalam unicode font like AnjaliOldLipi. Download it from here.
Go to Control Panel > Fonts.  Choose File > Install font and browse to your font and click OK.

And use IE (ver 6 is good) to view malayalam pages, although the display may not be perfect.
On Internet Explorer 6: Go to Tools -> Internet Options. Click Fonts and Choose Malayalam and set AnjaliOldLipi as the font.

Check whether you can read malayalam at malayalam wikipedia.

To type Malayalam
They do not have direct support for inputting malayalam.

1. Try using the Inscript keyboard layout program from CDAC, Govt of India.
Download it from here. Unzip and doubleclick Setup.exe to install.
An icon should come at the taskbar which enables you to switch, keyboards. The key map is here.
[Please confirm if you have success in using this]

2. You could also try the methods specified for ‘typing Malayalam’ in Windows XP/2003, [except method 1].
Please see below.

Windows XP/2003

Windows XP SP2 and 2003 has default support for rendering Malayalam.

To enable it,
Go to Start > Control Panel.
If you are in “Category View” select the icon that says Date, Time, Language and Regional Options and then select Regional and Language Options.
If you are in “Classic View” select the icon that says Regional and Language Options.
Select the Languages tab and make sure the option saying Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages (including Thai) is checked. Click OK.
A confirmation message should now appear – press OK on this confirmation message to allow the OS to install necessary files from the Windows XP CD and then reboot if prompted.

Check whether you can read malayalam at malayalam wikipedia.

You should install AnjaliOldLipi font in any case. The default font provided by XP called ‘karthika‘ is not good and small.
Install AnjaliOldLipi malayalam unicode font.
Download from here.
Go to Control Panel > Fonts.  Choose File > Install font and browse to your font and click OK.

Enable firefox and IE to use this font.
For Firefox  Go to Tools > Options > Content.
You can see the Fonts & Colors section. Take Advanced.
Choose Malayalam from the Fonts for dropdown menu.
Now set AnjaliOldLipi in each of the dropdown list. Click Ok and Ok.

For IE, Go to Tools > Internet Options.
Click Fonts and Choose Malayalam form the Language Script dropdown menu
Set the font as AnjaliOldLipi in the below list box.

See IE, FF and notepad displaying malayalam in my windows XP, using the default font karthika. You can also see the keyboard layout switcher in the taskbar near system tray.
Malayalam pages displayed in Windows XP

To type Malayalam
1. Windows XP SP2 and 2003 has default support for typing malayalam. This is the Inscript keyboard layout from CDAC, Govt of India.
To enable it, Choose Regional and Language Options from Control Panel. On Languages tab click Details.
Click the Add button and Choose Malayalam(India). Click Apply.
Now Click Language bar… button and check Show Language bar… and Show additional language bar…
A menu will appear in the taskbar which allows you to select the malayalam keyboard. The key map is here.

Now you can type Malayalam directly into any application.

2. Use a keyboard mapper called Mozhi Keyman to type Malayalam directly into the computer in transliteration scheme[eg typing english keys ‘ithu’ will output malayalam ‘ഇതു’.]
Download Mozhi keyman here and install it. Once it is installed you will see its icon(letter K) in system-tray. Click on it and choose ‘Mozhi’ to enable it. The icon will now change to malayalam (ക)
Use this mozhi scheme to type.

3. You can use a software called Varamozhi, This software allows text inputting in same transliteration scheme of Mozhi, and once you are done export it to unicode file. Download and install Varamozhi here. Visit varamozhi site for details on how to use it

4. You can use web based Google transliteration service , to type Malayalam in the transliteration scheme of Mozhi, and it will be converted to malayalam automatically, Then you can copy paste it into your programs.  Google transliteration service is also used in Orkut to input malayalam.
The advantage of this method is that you can test typing, right after you setup viewing.

Some more key mappers and web based services are listed here

Windows Vista

Windows Vista has default support for reading and typing malayalam. Check the section for Windows 7, the steps are almost similar.

GNU/Linux

GNOME and KDE both has good support for malayalam script rendering.

You will only need to install malayalam unicode font.

To install AnjaliOldLipi,
Download from here. To install, open your File Manager, type fonts:/// in the addressbar and hit enter and paste fonts in that folder.

OR you could install the distribution specific fonts by commands,
Redhat, Cent OS, RHEL , Fedora etc – yum install fonts-malayalam
Debian, Ubuntu etc – apt-get install ttf-malayam-fonts

Restart X-server by logging out and logging in back.

Usually Firefox is capable of detecting the malayalam font to display. If not,
Go to Tools > Options > Content.
You can see the Fonts & Colors section. Take Advanced.
Choose Malayalam from the Fonts for dropdown menu.
Now set AnjaliOldLipi in each of the dropdown list. Click Ok and Ok.

See firefox displaying malayalam in my Cent OS 5.3. The only error i could see is for the rendering of ‘nte’ as in “എന്റെ”

Malayalam wikipedia in Firefox in CentoOS

To type malayalam
1. Both GNOME and KDE has support for malayalam keyboard layout. The is the Inscript keyboard layout from CDAC, Govt of India.

To enable it,
For GNOME,
Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard. Select the Layouts tab.
Press Add, then select India > Malayalam from Available Layouts frame and then press Add. You could also see an image depicting the keymappings.

Now add a icon for changing keyboard layouts,
Right click on the main menu on your desktop and select Add to Panel….
Select Keyboard Indicator and click Add. Position the keyboard indicator on your menu bar and click it to switch between keyboard layouts.

For KDE,
In the Control Center, go to Regional & Accessibility, Keyboard Layout
In the tab Layout, click on Enable keyboard layouts
Choose the Malayalam in Available layouts and click on Apply
Now, you will have an icon for the KDE Keyboard Tool in your panel, in which you can choose the layout you want

2. You could also use the Google transliteration service. Check the section on ‘typing malayalam’ in Windows XP above for more details.

Mac

Mac OS X has no support for rendering Malayalam script at the time of writing. Mac OS X has support for only Devanagari, Gujarati and Gurmukhi scripts. So mac can properly display only the languages that use these scripts [like Hindi, Sanskrit, etc ]

We could still install the malayalam unicode fonts, and can get some readable display.
Download the font malayalam.ttf from here. [Mac needs its own specific truetype Unicode fonts to work with its font rendering engine AAT, So AnjaliOldLipi, Meera doesnot work here.]

We now have a new font called RachanMac.ttf. Download it from here. Credits to Manoj and Vinod for making this mac version of Rachana font. [Please uninstall any previous malayalam fonts that you have installed before installing this.]

Install the font by double clicking on it. Once the font is installed you will see ‘Rachana’ in the System Preferences > International > Language list

Usually in Mac we do not need to change anything in Firefox or Safari to see malayalam. Mac is intelligent enough to  automatically hunt through your installed fonts to find any font that includes the character symbol.

Check this page with  firefox and safari.

See this screenshot of firefox displaying malayalam wikipedia page in Mac. You can see that it is perfect.
Malayalam wikipedia in Mac firefox

To type malayalam
1. The Google transliteration service can be used in mac too. Check the section on ‘typing malayalam’ in Windows XP above for more details.

2. For small texts, you could use the Mac’s unicode hex input, to directly input the keycode of the required letter.
Go to System Preferences > Keyboard and enable Unicode Hex Input checkbox. Now, a keyboard menu will appear on the menubar, Click on it choose Unicode Hex Input and press Option key and type the unicode code, and it will be inputted. Malayalam Unicode Hex chart can be downloaded here.

3. A mac malayalam keyboard layout by Manoj is here. Download the the Layout file and install it as per the instructions given in the same page.

To view Manorama, Mathrubhumi and Deepika website.

Fonts used in the websites like Malayala-manorama and Deepika etc are not unicode, they are just usual ASCII encoded fonts which uses malayalam symbols at the places of English one’s. They use the code numbers assigned for English alphabets for Malayalam. This method does not have any of the features of Unicode fonts.

These sites use a technology of Internet Explorer called ‘Dynamic fonts’ where the font is automatically downloaded to your computer when you first visit their site in IE. Therefore, these sites by default, usually only work for IE.

Now, to view these sites in firefox or other browsers, you will have to manually download this font and install them. Refer previous sections on how to install a font for your operating system.

Manorama font – http://www.manoramaonline.com/mmfont/Manorama.ttf
Deepika font – http://www.deepika.com/mlkr0ntt_TTF.ttf

Mathrubhumi however uses Unicode font Meera hardcoded in to the HTML source. You will be able to view Mathrubhumi site after installing any unicode malayalam font.
If you want to install Meera font, download it at,
Mathurbhumi font – http://www.mathrubhumi.com/new09/Meera_04-2.ttf

Some More Malayalam Unicode fonts.

I have also collected some of the other Malayalam unicode fonts available. You could download them from here. Full credits to the creators of the font.Check the included copying.txt for information about the creators.

To have a look at how these fonts look, see this picture.

Some Issues

Webpage appears full of garbage even after installing font.
Try changing the encoding to UTF-8 from View > Character Encoding in FF and View > Encoding in IE

Credits-
Malayalam Computing, by Govt of Kerala. – This site include the latest on using malayalm in computers. Visit this site for further information on Computers and malayalam. Refer this site for details on how to use the Inscript keyboard.

Cibu and his Varamoshi page
Malayalam Wikipedia
Swathantra Malayalam computing
– for all the fonts.
MalayalamLinux
Project – for the mac font.
Santhosh – http://fci.wikia.com/wiki/SMC/Fonts – for the picture of fonts
Rohit and Sony for helping with the mac section and screenshots.