Getting Chinese IME on EeePC

The selection of keyboard mappings for the Russian version of EeePC's Xandros is both irritatingly random and incomplete. Worse, you can choose from the list of keyboards but there's no straightforward way to modify the list itself. At least, not with the provided GUI tools.

With all that, one would probably expect this 中国产品 baby to come with a decent support for Chinese outta the blessed box, right?

Wrong. No sign of Chinese IME, no way to install one. And that's with my Chinese classes where I wanted to employ the gadget about to resume pretty soon.

So what's a guy gonna do? Being a Dear Valued Customer and all? Don't be stupid, don't annoy Support. Read on.

Degraded and broken, Xandros still is Debian. Sort of kinda. A quick inspection of ASUS's reps revealed that they've divided the stuff into "national" sections. My /etc/apt/sources.list contained two lines: the first one for the general rep, the second one for Russian version specific bits. Like this:

deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701 p701 main
deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/ru p701 main

So, I simply added the third line:

deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/cn p701 main

Now, it's not a bed of roses either. The preinstalled icewm has no kawaii button for editing config files. Nor, for that matter, any for a shell. Even Ctrl-Alt-T doesn't always bring you a terminal emulator in Russian version. But there's a way.

The Work tab (the second one whatever it's called — in Russian, it's "Работа") contains something called File Manager ("Диспетчер файлов"). Don't let the stupid name fool you. Run it. It's Konqueror. While a fairly decent web browser, that's not the only surprise it holds. Staying in the Konqueror's window, press Ctrl-T. Watch the blinkenlights. Welcome to Konsole. The true power of your EeePC is now yours to command. If you're an old Linux tar (or cpio) you can take it from here. Otherwise,

sudo echo 'deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/cn p701 main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list

— mind the double "more" sign that must be double. Better still, just copy this line to Konsole. In X Window, it's enough to select it with your mouse. Then, the middle mouse button (the wheel on most modern mice; yes, it's normally clickable) will insert it. With touchpad, everything becomes painful yet still is possible. Clicking both left and right mouse buttons at once (something that ASUS engineers made sure you'll have trouble doing with their touchpad) works exactly like a MMB click.

Now, sudo aptitude update (and wait for it to download its stuff), sudo aptitude and here it is, xandros-scim available for installation. If you have trouble locating it, press / (shorthand for "find" in many Unix-style progs,) type xandros-scim followed by Tab key to highlight "OK", enter, +, g. Wait a while. Probably, you'll also have to confirm that you really truly want to install the stuff. When the downloads and installations end, you'll have a working SCIM, and that's the Chinese IME you've been looking for.

A word of warning: don't use dselect or apt-get, something's broken there. While aptitude's CUI is a depressing mess, it seems to be the only game in town. Besides, the only SCIM-ready programme I've found in the Russian version so far was Firefox. OO.org doesn't seem to notice it. Suits me well so far, but further research is required.


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