How to type Vietnamese in Ubuntu Linux

If you’re an Ubuntu user and want to start typing in Vietnamese, read on. For Windows instructions, visit this website and for Macs over here.

Open Synaptic package manager, search for ibus-unikey and install it.

Once you’ve completed the install, go to your desktop. Click on System and look for IBus Preferences. There you can configure the settings.

Find IBus Preferences under the System menu

Configure your settings

Make sure to open IBus every time you want to type in Vietnamese, and click on the taskbar icon to switch back or turn it off when you don’t.

Icon in the Ubuntu taskbar for switching to type in Vietnamese

Once you’re using it, the keyboard shortcuts to make the tones and accents are:

s = sắc (eg. os → ó)
f = huyền (eg. of → ò)
j = nặng (eg. oj → ọ)
r = hỏi (eg. or → ỏ)
x = ngã (ox → õ)

mũ – press the key twice (eg. oo → ô)

móc – letter + w (eg. ow → ơ, aw → ă)

Over to you: Have you used Unikey on Ubuntu? Got any tips?

{ Leave a Reply ? }

  1. Benjamin Coolice

    Hey There Morevietnamese,
    Maybe a little off topic, however, I know to type some letters in Vietnamese that don’t exist in English

  2. Hieu T

    Hello Ms Thao,

    It’s nice to visit your blog. Keep going!


  3. Thai

    I’m glad that ibus-unikey is also in Arch.

  4. Doug Nguyen

    Hi Ruth,

    I’m coming across your More Vietnamese as finding an alternative to this ibus-unikey! Sound funny but there is a bug in Google Chrome / Chromium that keeps your ibus keyboard from functioning properly. A simple workaround is restart your ibus anytime the bug kicks in (right click, restart) if you are a fan of Chrome/ium like me or simple switch to your Firefox.

    Will let you know once I find an alternative keyboard. Cheers.

  5. Tom Pham

    Dear co Thao

    I use Ubuntu 14.04 . I followed your instructions and moved Vietnamese up in keyboard settings .

    But , when i press key 1 from main alphabetic area , it displays ă , key 2 is â , key 3 is ê , continue with ô ̀ ̉ ̃ ́ ̣ ̣đ .

    I cannot use the above keyboard shortcuts. When I type Sas , it doesnt form VNese word.

    Do I miss something ?

    Cam’ on* co Thao? nhieu` nhe’ .
    BTW , Tom also ” tuổi con mèo ” (copy/paste) 🙂 🙂

  6. Phu

    Thanks alot Cô Thảo. I came across this wonderful link of yours.


  7. Hậu

    Xin chào chị,
    Ở Việt Nam có 2 kiểu gõ chính:Telex(north Vietnam hay dùng) và VNI (South Vietnam hay dùng)
    Kiểu gõ Telex bỏ dấu như chị đã hướng dẫn trên
    Kiểu gõ VNI : 1=á, 2à, 3ả, 4ã, 5ạ, 6â, 7ơ, 8ă,9Đ.
    Unikey And Vietkey là hai phần mềm ở Việt Nam hay dùng.
    Font VNI hoặc Unicode (VD: VNI-Times; Arial)

  8. BaoLe

    Thank you for your guide.

  9. Mel

    Are you sure this works on Linux? Your screenshot looks very different from Linux. I installed ibus-unikey with apt-get but it’s not showing in System Settings.

  10. Mel

    I found it on Ubuntu 16! You go to Ubuntu Software, type ibus in the search box, then you find Ibus Preferences, install, and you have to launch it from right there. Then go to Input Method tab, add Telex, now go to System Settings -> Text Entry and Unikey mode will be available 🙂

    Dì có một con dơi!

  11. Loc Le

    Thank you Ruth and Mel. Following Ruth’s instruction, I installed IBus-unikey from Synaptic Package Manager. Since I use Ubuntu 16.04, and only can find it in Ubuntu software and launch it from there. However, when I try to add, I could not find Vietnamese language in the list. At the end of the list is Other, when I licked Other it showed Croatian. I also tried to search Vietnamese in the search window, but no response. So, I guess I might have to use command line to install from *.bz2 file.

  12. acdc

    hi Lộc,

    Try the link below and see if it helps:

    Chúc bạn may mắn.

    cheers – ac

    • Loc Le

      Thanks. I was able to install in Debian Linux. Dưới đây là vài dòng viết bằng tiếng Việt để chứng minh.

      Cám ơn nhiều,
      Lộc Lê

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