Ubuntu Linux Localization Tutorial

Aasim Naseem 1

Hello All. I wish you read this post in the best of everything.

Today I’m going to tell you how to localize your ubuntu operating system. Here we will add urdu support and will configure our ubunto to display menus and toolbars in urdu language.ubuntu0

Let’s start. I will try to be very concise …. There are four simple steps to  get this job done. They are

  • Install Urdu Keyboard
  • Install Urdu Fonts
  • Install System wide Language support
  • Translation

Install Urdu Keyboard

To add urdu writing support in ubuntu can be easily install by following the steps given below:

First configure urdu keyboard

Download urdu keyboard from the site:


Copy this file to these two locations:



Edit xorg.lst found in /etc/X11/xkb/rules and add ur Urdu Pakistan line as shown below:


th_tis Thai (TIS-820.2538)

th_pat Thai (Pattachote)

tr Turkish

tr_f Turkish (F)

ua Ukrainian

gb United Kingdom

uz Uzbek

ur Urdu Pakistan


Now you need to compile this new layout into X Server. Do this by following commands:

cd /etc/X11/xkb/symbols

xkbcomp -lhlpR ‘*’ -o ../symbols.dir

After this you should go to “Applications->System Tools->Configuration Editor” and add ur

(without quotes) in the list of already installed layouts in the path:


Next is Installing Urdu Layout Switcher Applet

urdu keyboard is now installed. Your system is ready to write in urdu. But furst you have to install language switcher. you can install keyboard switcher applet by going to any

panel, right-clicking and selecting Add to Panel->Keyboard Indicator. By clicking on

this switcher, you can easily change between English(or any other language)/Urdu


Once Urdu keyboard is installed, you can write Urdu anywhere in Linux.

Install Urdu Fonts

One thing is important that only true type fonts are so far tested to be successfully integrated with Ubuntu X font Server. Just paste the fonts files *.ttf into the fonts folder, and then test the fonts installation in an editor. Also remember to select your desired font in text editor. You can find Urdu Nastaliq Unicode font free of cost from the following link:


Install System wide Language support

Use the following command as root for installing your Urdu language Locale.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

Check your required language locale and select ok.

Re-login with the respective locale (Use Language tab at the login screen).


Once steps 1,2 and 3 are complete you can now start the translation process. For this, just visit the site http://www.debian.org/ and download the PO (Portability Object) files.

Replace the original strings to be translated in the PO files with the urdu string by using the urdu keyboard. This is the most interesting step because you can write anything to display as menu or at toolbar. Whatever you want to see in your ubuntu just write here.

Save the PO files

Now Convert the PO files to MO (Machine Object) files with the following command:

msgfmt gedit.po (as a root user)

Now place the .mo file in the respective location for system recognize the translated messages.

/usr/share/locale/ur/LC_MESSAGES folder

This is the location from where obuntu pick the strings to display.

Re-login to see the effects.

DONE … now after relogin or after restarting, your ubuntu should look like (if you use those string in translation step)



Comment 1

  1. oh sir you are great. i wasn’t expecting your post soo early. thank you so so much. I will try this tonight. this tutorial is really a good “good morning” gift for me. thanks again.

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