This is an update to the previous guide “Enabling Urdu Support in Ubuntu“. If you are using Ubuntu 9.04 or higher than you should follow the steps below to install Urdu read write support in your Ubuntu Linux Operating System. Ubuntu has the best support for Urdu Language, it renders Urdu fonts beautifully and using Open Office in Ubuntu you can create beautiful text documents, PDF files and presentations.
Step 1 – Installing Urdu Language Support
Go to System > Administration > Language Support
The language window will appear, now click on Install / Remove Languages… button:
A new window will appear with a list of languages. Scrolldown to find Urdu and then mark it to be installed. Then press the Apply button.
You will be then asked to provide your administrative password. Providing the password will the initiate the installation process which consists of downloading the necessary packages from the internet and installing them on your computer. After the installation you will be shown a message “Successfully applied changes”. Now we have completed the installation of Urdu support.
Step 2: Adding keyboard layout
Unlike other operating systems, Ubuntu comes with a variety of choices for Urdu Keyboard layouts installed on your machine. There are phonetic, Indian and Pakistani keyboard layouts. In my opinion the Pakistan keyboard layout is the most easy to use. It is phonetic which makes it easy for a newbie to understand where the keys are.
Right Click on an empty space anywhere on your top or bottom panel and select Add to Panel…
This will show a list of applets that you can add to your panel. From this list select “Keyboard Layout Indicator” and press Add button.
You will see that a text icon “USA” will appear on your panel. This indicates that you are currently using the USA English keyboard layout. Right click on it and select Keyboard Preferences.
The Keyboard Preferences windows will appear. Go to the Layout tab and press Add… button.
Now you will see Choose the layout window with two tabs By Country or By Language. You can select either of these tabs to select your keyboard layout. Using By Country tab, in the Country menu you need to scroll down until you find Pakistan and select it. If you use By Language tab then in the Language menu you need to scroll down until you find Urdu.
Keyboard layouts come with different variants. Some are phonetic and some follow the Arabic keymap. In my opinion Phonetic keyboard layouts are the most easy to use. CRULP, Pakistan and NLA are phonetic keyboard layouts. I personally use Pakistan. So in the Variants menu you suggest your keyboard layout and finally you press the Add button.
Now you have added Urdu keyboard layout. But you need to know how to switch from US English keyboard layout to Pakistan Urdu. To do that we press the Layout Options button in Keyboard Preferences window. In the new Keyboard Layout Options window we go to the option Key(s) to Change Layout and from it’s submenu we select the key combination we would like to use for switching between our keyboard layouts. I personally use Alt + Switch as this is the same combination I used in MS windows.
After that press the Close button in Keyboard Options window, and Close button on Keyboard Preferences window. Now to make sure that all these settings work as desired, you should restart your computer.
Below is a screenshot of Urdu on my Ubuntu. The font used here is Nafees Web Naskh which is installed on your computer when you install Language support.