The Birth of ‘foss4mylang’ – Tamil Localization

When 10 people unite, the work done by a single person for a week finishes in a day! This became true when 14 people united to translate around 400 strings of software terms for ‘Django’ , a well known web interface, into equivalent thamizh strings.

This endeavor also led to the formation of a group or perhaps the birth of a community who will strive to translate every other Open Source Software in thamizh, that one day every OSS will be available in thamizh itself. This was also a show which proved that Open Source community has all the enthusiasm and determination to do things which are otherwise put in shelves for years.

The members of this group come from different domains and even geographical locations, and necessarily need not be software professionals. But all have the passion to involve themselves in the community efforts to make this world, at-least this ‘part’ of the world, OSS aware. We mainly had people from our own NRC-FOSS and CDAC, as well as many active volunteers from ilugc. We formed a google group, christened it as ‘foss4mylang’, perhaps in a democratic way of collecting names and voting for each name. Finally ‘foss4mylang’ was what everyone wanted our group to be called.

The day started with a brief introduction to Tamil Translation Endeavours that have been taken up in the past as well as the success stories of the same. We were lucky enough to have Vel Murugan who had been into one such effort and later joined by Shivakumar who had been indeed one of the initiators f such effort. We had a long session of setting up ‘scim’ and ‘kbable’ in our Linux machines – Fedoras’ mostly with my Ubuntu and one Debian being an exception. I had some initial hitches in making scim actually work, though i had almost everything right.

The gimmick to make tamil translation is…

1. Turn on your tamil/indic language support in your linux boxes,

2. Download ‘scim’ and all its additional modules for your language. Yum and apt may help you with this.

3. Make sure you have these modules for your scim:

scim-gtk2-immodule, scim-modules-socket, scim-modules-table, scim-tables-additional, scim-m17n and finally scim-uim.

These modules are very much important for you to get Indian languages running under scim.

4. Go to the ‘SCIM Setup’ and select the languages you wish to turn on and the keys for turning them on, off and to toggling between them.

5. Download and install kbable, which is the translation software. If you have a database of translated words as ‘po’ files, then upload them in kbable so that you wont be translating same words again and again, espeicially in your own way.

6. There is a small gimmick which you have additionally play to make thing work in the end. Make a symbolic link for the xinput.d folder to your home directory. This will give you the option to configure your own personal input settings, though you need not alter this file at this stage.

ln -s /etc/X11/xinit/xinput.d/scim ~/.xinput.d/en_US

Now, load the to-be-translated files in KBable and start translating. the words which you are not sure of proper tamil translation can be marked as fuzzy. And if you find some fuzzy and know how to spell it right, translate and remove the fuzzy mark.

I very well understand that my above description is too simple for the task, its only by practice we learn things. We learnt it yesterday and that’s why am writing this blog today. If you have any difficulty when trying your own hands at translation, then you are free to refer You can also add this to your groups by joining the group and thereby join the team of tamil-loving translators.

Note: The group is named ‘foss4mylang’ rather than ‘foss4tamil’ because we are not restricted to ‘thamizh’ alone. As the people who were there yesterday were thamizh speaking souls, we did a tamil translation. We also help and support all other Indian languages, and we indeed welcome people from other languages to join our team and do translations in their own mother-tongue. 🙂

வாழ்க தமிழ் ! வளர்க தமிழர் பெருமை !


5 thoughts on “The Birth of ‘foss4mylang’ – Tamil Localization

  1. As for as Fedora,I just enabled Tamil lang,I could see Tamil it renders properly but in Ubuntu 6.05 I used to get ?????? like this despite SCIM module.
    After downloading few ext also no use in windows.
    In linux,how to check modules or loaded or not?Pl be bit elobrate as may be helpful for new comers

  2. Ubuntu has improved SCIM a lot that now it doesn’t involve such chores to get it working. Just add language support, configure your trigger keys in SCIM setup and relogin. It works like a charm! Check out – – for more!! 🙂

    உபுன்டு’வில் SCIM செயல்படுத்தும் முறையானதுஎளிதாக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. மேலும்விவரங்களுக்கு இந்த பக்கத்தை பார்க்கவும்-

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