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This document briefly describes how to make Ubuntu use the Hebrew language. Main topics: Hebrew packages, locales, layout switching, reading Hebrew file-systems, console and X fonts, Hebrew ICQ.

Needed Packages

Enable universe repository (see UniversePackages, or manually edit */etc/apt/sources.list*).

For msttcorefonts (Microsoft TrueType core fonts), which are required in order to view Hebrew in some Microsoft-format documents, add "multiverse" to your sources list. Follow the instructions for adding UniversePackages above but add "multiverse" in addition to "universe".

Open a terminal and install some packages:

Hebrew fonts: X fonts, the culmus fonts, msttcorefonts (MS Windows fonts)

sudo apt-get install culmus xfonts-efont-unicode xfonts-efont-unicode-ib xfonts-intl-european msttcorefonts

OPTIONAL Packages: Previously OpenOffice.org was the default Office Suite but since the end of April 2011 (Ubuntu 11.04) it has been re-named LibreOffice. The name OpenOffice now belongs to Oracle and they continue to offer an OpenSource Office Suite under the old name but LibreOffice is developing faster and is now the default in Ubuntu and other gnu&linux distros.

The instructions for Hebrew support in LibreOffice are likely to be identical but obviously swap the names. It might be a good idea to check it works!

sudo apt-get install openoffice.org-l10n-he

Hebrew standalone spell checker

sudo apt-get install hspell hspell-gui

Hebrew support for Emacs

sudo apt-get install emacs-intl-fonts

Hebrew support for KOffice

sudo apt-get install koffice-i18n-he

Set Hebrew Locale

Navigate to "System"-->"Administration"-->"Language Support". Mark "Hebrew" as your desired language, and choose to "Apply" the changes. This will install neccessary locale data as well as do any configuration needed to put the new locale into effect. After you finish it's recommended you log out and re log in to GNOME to have the new locale settings take effect.

Reading File-Systems with Hebrew

You may have Windows partitions you want to access, and to do so, you will have to mount them. AutomaticallyMountPartitions explains how to auto-mount such partitions on start-up.

However, if you used Hebrew file-names on these partitions, you will have to add the following lines to the configuration file discussed in AutomaticallyMountPartitions instead of the lines stated:

For FAT Partitions

FAT (File Allocation Table) file-systems do less read/writes for any given data than a journalised system. It might be possible that early Solid State Drives, Usb-sticks and memory cards may slowly lose some storage capacity when areas have been used heavily but this will happen anyway. The chances for data-loss and corruption are much higher with un-journalised systems such as FAT (or ext2). However, FAT is often used on removable devices such as Usb-sticks, Memory Cards, external hard-drives and such-like. For internal drives it was used in Windows 98 and earlier.

/dev/sdaX /mnt/foo vfat umask=0111,dmask=0,codepage=862,iocharset=iso8859-8,rw,users 0 0

For NTFS Partitions

Win8, Win7, Vista, Xp and Win 2000 use Ntfs. It is journalised (Ext3 and Ext4 are journalised) which makes it much more rugged and less vulnerable to data-corruption. Access times tend to be faster too.

/dev/sdaY /mnt/bar ntfs umask=0333,dmask=0,nls=iso8859-8,ro,users 0 0

*sdaX* and *sdaY* refer to the location of the Windows partition (AutomaticallyMountPartitions eplains how to find this out). */mnt/foo* and */mnt/bar* refer to the directories in which the partitions will be mounted (this is also explained in AutomaticallyMountPartitions.

Cd-Roms, Floppies, etc.

Type in the terminal window:

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

and add *iocharset=iso8859-8* to the CD-ROM/floppy options.

IconsPage/note.png Note:

  • To find out where are your partitions located and what filesystem is in use type *sudo fdisk -l* in the terminal.

Writing to Windows Partitions

The above mentioned opens up your partitions for read access only. Enabling write access to windows partitions is done by a driver called ntfs-3g. There are two steps required to install it for Hebrew users:

  1. Installing it, using the instructions found here.

  2. Adding the "locale" option in the fstab, as explained the in the ntfs-3g FAQ.

The Console

NOTE These are bindings for the console (virtual terminals) - not for Hebrew in X terminals.

To use Hebrew fonts in the console you'll have to edit */etc/console-tools/config* file. Make sure these lines appear in the file:


You may also use *iso08.f14* or *iso08.f08* as your screen fonts (the second number represents font height). A font can be tested from a console with

consolechars -f <screen_font> -m <charset_map>

See *man consolechars* for more details.

Keymap bindings are usually configured automaticaly. They can be changed with

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-data

The common hebrew binding is il-Heb (not Standard!).

Hebrew Fonts in X Terminals and Emacs

NOTE: This is already available out of the box in breezy and dapper. No setup is needed.

To enable Hebrew fonts in XTerm and Emacs you'll have to edit *~/.Xresources*. Add these lines:

*VT100*font: -etl-fixed-medium-r-normal--16-160-72-72-c-80-iso8859-8
Emacs*font: -etl-fixed-medium-r-normal--16-160-72-72-c-80-iso8859-8

IconsPage/note.png Note:

  • You may choose different fonts with *xfontsel*, just make sure they end with "iso8859-8".

Hebrew Keyboard in Gnome\Unity

To add Hebrew keyboard to gnome:

In your menu:

  • Computer -> Desktop Preferences -> Keyboard (or run gnome-keyboard-properties):

  • in Layouts: add "Israeli".
  • in Layout Options: in "Group Shift/Lock behavior" choose which keys will switch to Hebrew and back. Restarting Gnome may be necessary.

Add keyboard indicator to your panel:

  • on a panel -> Add to panel... -> Keyboard Indicator.

ICQ Support in Gaim/Pidgin and GnomeICU

In Gaim (or Pidgin): Under Accounts >> Add/Edit, Open to your ICQ profile settings, and in "Show more options" or "Advanced" tab set Encoding to "ISO-8859-8".

In GnomeICU: Under preferences choose "ISO-8859-8" as default encoding.


In the login screen, "Hebrew" may be chosen as the language in which menus will be displayed. Unfortunately, some menus aren't translated to Hebrew yet.

Subtitles in MPlayer

1. Install the "Tahoma" font (if you already installed the "msttcorefonts" package, then you don't need this part)

cd /usr/share/fonts/truetype
sudo mkdir ttf-win32
cd ttf-win32
sudo cp /mnt/hda1/windows/Fonts/tahoma* .  #(or wherever your tahoma font is at)
sudo fc-cache -v

2. make a symbolic link to tahoma.ttf in ~/.mplayer:

cd ~/.mplayer
ln -s /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-win32/tahoma.ttf subfont.ttf
  • Note: If you installed msttcorefonts, then the tahoma.ttf file might somewhere else, to find where it is run:

find /usr/share/fonts/truetype -iname 'tahoma.ttf'

3. add these two lines to ~/.mplayer/config:



HebrewLocalizationHowto (last edited 2013-12-13 20:51:42 by knome)