Smart Common Input Method

From ArchWiki

This article or section is out of date.

Reason: Content from 2012 and older. (Discuss in Talk:Smart Common Input Method)

SCIM is an input method framework developed by Su Zhe (or James Su) around 2001, similar to IBus or Uim.

Its stated goals are to:

  • Act as an unified front-end for current available input method libraries. Currently bindings to uim and m17n library are available.
  • Act as a language engine of IIIMF input method framework.
  • Provide as many native IMEngines as possible.
  • Support as many input method protocols/interfaces as possible.
  • Support as many operating systems as possible.


Install the scim package.

Input method engines

Currently the SCIM project has a wide range of input methods (some may need other libraries), covering more than 30 languages, including (Simplified/Traditional) Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many European languages. These are some of the examples (more can be found here):

uim can be used as an engine for SCIM by using scim-uimAUR.


Configuring SCIM correctly requires the following three steps:

  1. Exporting some environment variables that specify the used input method.
  2. Modifying locale related files.
  3. Finally, starting SCIM.

A simple scenario

If you just need SCIM to work urgently in any desktop environment or window manager, put these lines into your xprofile and then reboot:

export GTK_IM_MODULE="scim"
export QT_IM_MODULE="scim"
scim -d

These lines can be added to other files that are run at startup, such as: /etc/profile, ~/.profile, ~/.xinitrc or ~/.config/openbox/autostart (when using Openbox).

Note: The first environment variable conflicts with some (unusual) options like XMODIFIERS=urxvt.

This is a very basic example for configuring XIM (X Input Method) to work with SCIM. XIM is not recommended because it has quite some limitations.

Note for GTK

If you use GNOME, edit /etc/gtk-2.0/gtk.immodules by adding follow content at the end:

"scim" "SCIM Input Method" "scim" "/usr/share/locale" "ja:ko:zh"

If your LC_CTYPE or LANG is en_US.UTF-8, change ja:ko:zh to en:ja:ko:zh.

After making those changes, be sure to reboot. You can find out what input method modules are available on your system by executing gtk-query-immodules-2.0.

If SCIM does not work with GTK applications after these changes, check that the GTK_IM_MODULE_FILE environment variable is set to /etc/gtk-2.0/gtk.immodules.

You can use another file (in this example ~/.immodules) that contains the necessary information about input methods modules by adding these lines in the file you selected in the section above.

gtk-query-immodules-2.0 > ~/.immodules
export GTK_IM_MODULE_FILE=~/.immodules

Locale-related files

If your keyboard locale is not en_US.UTF-8 (or en_US.utf8), you have to modify the first line of ~/.scim/global (or /etc/scim/global to apply these settings to all users) according to the following example:

/SupportedUnicodeLocales = en_US.UTF-8,de_CH.UTF-8

and replace your de_CH.UTF-8 with your locale.

Note: Your locale has to be active (i.e. you have to uncomment it in /etc/locale-gen and then execute locale-gen as root) and has to be supported by SCIM (most *.UTF-8 locales are).

If you do not know which locales you have active at the moment, you can check it:

locale -a

(alternatively you can look at /etc/locale.gen).

Further troubleshooting with locales

If after you have install SCIM and the necessary input tables, SCIM still does not work, then you need to set the LC_CTYPE environmental variable in /etc/profile to the locale you plan to use. Simply create an entry for LC_CTYPE such as:

LC_CTYPE="zh_CN.UTF-8"              # if you want to type simplified chinese

Finally you need to generate the locale using the locale-gen command.

Executing SCIM

SCIM can be run by just executing the scim command, although it is common to start SCIM as a daemon:

scim -d

You can put the above command in a script file and execute it automatically. Usual places are ~/.xinitrc (after environment variables and before DE/WM), /etc/profile (after environment variables) or ~/.config/openbox/autostart (after environment variables and possibly after some sleep command).

Note for GNOME

In case you use GNOME as your desktop environment, the command above does not seem to work as expected. Instead, you have to execute the following:

 scim -f x11 -c simple -d

If you want SCIM to start automatically at startup, go to System > Preferences > Session and create a new command with the line above.

Note: If you use the line scim -f socket -c socket -d instead, the configuration of your SCIM will be unmodifiable.

Note for KDE

In case you use KDE as a desktop environment, the command above does not seem to work as expected. Instead, you have to execute the following:

 scim -f socket -c socket -d


LWJGL (Lightweight Java Game Library) losing keyboard focus

See these two forum posts for a solution.

Chrome/Chromium does not take input

Edit the .xinitrc or .xsession file.

export GTK_IM_MODULE="xim"
export QT_IM_MODULE="scim"
scim -d

This is a rather sloppy workaround. Also, even with this workaround, Korean users may find scim unusable with Chrome/Chromium, as the preedit string disappears when the space bar or other modifier keys are pressed at the end of a word.

See also