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.

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?

30 replies on “How to type Vietnamese in Ubuntu Linux”

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

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.

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) 🙂 🙂

Hmm, I have an older version of Ubuntu but mine works with the letter system not numbers. If I understand correctly, you can use it with numbers (eg. a1 = ă) but not letters? (aw = ă)

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)

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.

Chắc chắn. I typed that from ubuntu, using Unikey. There are, as you know, many versions of Linux.

It’s 3 years since I wrote this post, so I don’t remember the details and I don’t have a newer version of ubuntu. What I can tell you is that on my computer it’s listed under:

System > Preferences > IBus Preferences

Though I usually just access it from the keyboard icon on the bar at the top.

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!

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.

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

update on Ubuntu 18.04 after 2 days of struggle:
the GUI for Ibus preference (find in Ubuntu software) doesn’t work.
here are my steps to make it work: (-1 and 0 might be not neccesary)
in terminal
-1. sudo apt remove ibus
0. sudo apt install ibus
1. sudo apt install ibus-unikey
2. im-config. now a GUI pops up > OK >yes > ibus
3. ibus-restart
4. Settings > Region and language > Add an input source > Vietnamese(unikey)
done ! now an icon “en” or “vi” should show us on your system tray near the power button. and the default hot key is Windows + space.

Cô Thảo,

I use Linux Mint 19 (Tara). There is another method to install VN Keyboard within the operating system itself. My steps to enable Vietnamese Keyboard are as follows:

Step 1:

Open System Settings > in Preferences > click on Input Method.
In Language Support, Scroll down the list, Select ‘Vietnamese’ and click Install.

Step 2:

Once installed, select Ibus. Then exit this windows.

Step 3:

In Linux Menu, look for Ibus Preferences.
In Input Method tab, Click “Add”, click “Unikey”, Click “Add”, click “Close”.
No need to reboot.

I was then able to view the icon (English US / Vietnamese Unikey) at the lower right hand corner of the screen and easily switch keyboard as required.
Ìf VN keyboard is active, you can choose between Telex, VNI, STelex, STelex2. There are several other options you can play with.
This method works for me.

Works for me! Just a few things:

– Make sure when you add the shortcut for the “Next Input Method” to click the “Add” button inside the shortcut window, I spent 10 minutes wondering why the shortcut wasn’t working.

– If you run ibus as sudo, it won’t work for your normal user, at least that was my case. I had to run “ibus-daemon -d” without sudo.

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