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Comprehensive Guide to Enabling Malayalam on your computer

Revision as of 06:13, 3 December 2019 by Dd (talk | contribs) (→‎Generic Method)


Enabling Malayalam on your computer - A comprehensive guide.


Before we go into details, it would be good to explain some terminology. You can skip it entirely if you are not interested in details.

In general though getting a language to work in an operating system requires that we take care of the following aspects.

  1. Fonts (Displaying the language)
  2. Input (Getting the computers to accept keystrokes in the chosen language)
  3. Localisation (Displaying the operating systems interface in the language)


Fonts in a computer are files that contain graphic data about one or more sets of related characters (English, Malayalam etc).

The graphical data in the file determines how the computers draws a letter (or combinations of letters) on the screen.

A font file can contain many languages, or only one.

If you ask the computer's operating system to use a particular font and its file does not contain a certain language, the OS will fall back to pre-set defaults.

Input methods

"Input method" is the generic name for software that interprets the keystrokes you make and translate them into appropriate Unicode characters.

The following image roughly explains what an input method does.

Input Method Concept

Almost all operating systems have an input method application for typing characters other than English.

Windows has a built-in input method, but there are Free and Open Source alternatives that provide better facilities such as Keyman.

Mac OS also has a built-in input method. Keyman is available for Mac OS too.

GNU/Linux systems have many to choose from. The most commonly used ones are "ibus" and "fcitx"

Android also has many input methods to choose from. We support SMC's Indic Keyboard.

Keyboard layouts

Keyboard layouts are software schemes that tell input methods how to interpret individual keystrokes or combinations.

For example, if you want the result of typing "a" in a keyboard to be translated to "അ" then that "mapping" is stored in a keyboard layout.

The Input method sits between a program and the keyboard, takes the keystrokes, then looks at the character and its target mapping on the keyboard layout. It then gives the resulting characters to the program that receives the input, like a text editor.

There are several keyboard layouts for Malayalam available with popular input methods on GNU/Linux machines. The following is a list of some popular ones. There are others.

  • Swanalekha
  • Inscript
  • Lalitha
  • Mozhi
  • Remington (Typewriter)


Localisation is the process of translating the UI presented by the computer into the user's language.

Even though people maybe comfortable with English, some would prefer their mother tongue.

Note that all programs may not be localised. For example, even if your operating system is set to use Malayalam, Firefox maynot show Malayalam interface simply because it hasn't been translated yet.

Windows has a Malayalam UI (unverified). GNU/Linux has KDE and GNOME Desktops. Mac OS has no Malayalam user interface support (unverified). Android has Malayalam user interface.

How to : Using Malayalam on GNU/Linux

Installing fonts

OS Methods

TODO : elaborate.

Fonts are in the repositories for - Fedora - Ubuntu - Debian - Arch via AUR

Generic Method

  • Download and install by copying to .fonts
  • Investigate if GNOME and KDE does this without any intervention through command line foolery.

User interface localisation

Input methods





How to : Using Malayalam on Windows

Installing fonts

Input methods

User interface localisation

How to : Using Malayalam on Illustrator/Photoshop

Aside : Using Scribus as an alternative for page layout

How to : Using Malayalam on MacOS

Installing fonts

Input methods

User interface localisation

How to : Using malayalam On Android


User Interface

How to : Using malayalam on iOS


User Interface