Fwd: im-config vs. im-switch: switching input method for X

YunQiang Su wzssyqa at ubuntu.com
Sat Feb 11 09:18:20 UTC 2012

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: YunQiang Su <wzssyqa at gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM
Subject: Re: im-config vs. im-switch: switching input method for X
To: ubuntu-devel-discuss at lists.ubuntu.com, osamu at debian.org
Cc: david.planella at ubuntu.com

I port language-selector to fit with im-config, and the patch is attached.

It is based on 0.69 version of language-selector,
and the new source is on

On Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM, Osamu Aoki <osamu at debian.org> wrote:
> Hi,
> (Excuse me for my slow start... Ubuntu list being closed list was my
> excuse.  I hope my subscription is active by now.  I hope in future,
> Ubuntu accepts signed mail from DD without subscription etc.)
> I think Ubuntu is doing very good job to expand user base of FREE OS.
> Thanks.
> Since Ubuntu seems to have different support schedule for each release,
> I thought it may be good idea to discuss side effects of my intended
> actions on Debian packages related to Ubuntu main package here, so we
> have least surprises to Ubuntu.
> Summary of my wish:
>  Basically im-config is redesigned and cleaned up version of im-switch.
>  Currently, im-switch is Ubuntu main while im-config is Ubuntu universe.
>  I wish to promote im-config to Ubuntu main while at appropriate time to
>  move down im-switch to universe or drop im-switch in Ubuntu.
>  If there is something I can do with my skill to help Ubuntu to move to
>  im-config, let me know. (Pointer to the source VCS using im-switch is
>  one thing.)
> Main discussion and explanation:
> I order to support keyboard input of CJK and many other non-latin
> characters, we have input method (IM) systems.  I maintain both
> im-switch (last 5 years) and im-config (1.5 years as upstream) in
> Debian.  These are input method (IM) configuration helper scripts.
> These programs provide very similar functionalities.  Basically,
> im-config is an updated package with a reimplementation and
> simplification of internal structure.  This introduced some
> incompatibilities and caused me to use different package names.  In most
> cases, switching from im-switch to im-config requires no user action
> other than installing and removing these packages.  It works almost
> transparent for users by the default set-up.
> For upcoming Debian release, we are doing the followings:
>  * make all IM package to Recommends: im-config | im-switch (mostly done)
>   So default install have im-config installed.
>  * README.Debian of im-switch states followings            (done)
>    im-switch is deprecated.
>    Please install im-config package for Wheezy.
>    This package will be dropped completely for Wheezy+1.
>  * probably move im-switch to oldlibs                     (not yet)
>  * probably drop im-switch for Wheezy+1.
>  * im-config is internationalized                         (done)
>  * im-switch is not internationalized and stays so.
> But these are some cases you need to watch out.
>  * User who understood im-switch's manual configuration features
>   needs to learn new but simpler im-config manual configuration
>   features.  (This is the reason we do not drop in wheezy to enable
>   softer transition in Debian)
>  * Ubuntu provides "Language Support" GUI which uses im-switch.
>   This may needs to be adjusted. (Ubuntu specific, I do not know the
>   source ...)
> As I understand, the main frontend of Ubuntu "Language Support" GUI is
> language-selector.  I heard it will be the Region tab from
> gnome-control-center soon. As long as we communicate well, we can change
> the underlying implementation without much hassle.
> Let me explain a bit more technical details of what these packages do as
> below:
> When X starts, /etc/X11/Xsession runs scripts in /etc/X11/Xsession.d in
> run-parts fashion.  im-switch and im-config drops their hook shell code
> in /etc/X11/Xsession.d.  This hook script will do the followings:
>  * run IM daemon
>  * run GUI panel indication IM status on X
>  * set and export environment variables to X clients
>    export XMODIFIERS
>    export GTK_IM_MODULE
>    export QT_IM_MODULE
>    export QT4_IM_MODULE
> This hook script is configured by the im-switch or im-config command and
> there are few notable differences:
> The im-switch configuration result is specific to particular locale so
> if user changes his locale setting, previous configuration may become
> invalid.  It stores configuration in a symlink firms.
> The im-config configuration result is agnostic about user's locale
> setting (in default setting).  It stores configuration as a plain shell
> code.
> Maybe, I should explain the rationale behind these design differences in
> historical context.
> There were 2 popular IM packages, SCIM and uim, when im-switch was
> created.  There was a need to make both packages happily installed
> together.  Now there are ibus, uim, fcitx, hime, scim, gcin, ... some
> packages are active but some are about to be dropped.  They all are
> supported by im-config and im-switch for wheezy.
> In order to enable all these packages installed together without
> conflicts.  Since some of them comes with many plug-ins, GUI
> configuration with helper dialogue is desirable, too.
> The im-switch uses update-alternatives in its extreme by using --altdir
> option,  the im-switch script was started by Muto-san but it has been
> maintained by me.
>  http://packages.qa.debian.org/i/im-switch.html
>  http://anonscm.debian.org/gitweb/?p=collab-maint/im-switch.git
> The main problems of the im-switch script were:
>  * over engineered.
>  * very difficult to understand strange usage of update-alternatives
>  * rely on update-alternatives command out put string
>   --> No way for gettext
>  * user customizations require deep understanding of how im-switch
>   works.  I even forget what each variable does.  The only way is to
>   read the whole source.
>  * "im-switch -z en_GB -s scim_xim" is cryptic for average user.
>  * Not too helpful selecting plug-ins.
>  ...
> When I looked at FEDORA 2 years ago, it started input method environment
> via pure shell script embedding its guessing logic as simple "if ..." so
> people can move from SCIM to IBUS easily.  (Their new im-chooser is much
> more advanced.)
> In order to keep im-switch functionality and but provide cleaner
> framework for people to tweak, I made a simpler script im-config without
> using update-alternatives but pure POSIX SHELL (Well, it still has
> /bin/bash but I think it can be /bin/sh).
>  http://packages.qa.debian.org/i/im-config.html
>  http://anonscm.debian.org/gitweb/?p=collab-maint/im-config.git
> The main advantage of im-config is simplicity of its manual
> configuration file:
> ----
> /usr/bin/ibus-daemon --daemonize --xim
> XMODIFIERS=@im=ibus
> QT4_IM_MODULE=ibus
> ----
> Its automatic configuration does more guessing/checking of installed
> files.  It looks like:
> ----
> # im-config(8) generated on Sat, 26 Jun 2010 11:41:39 +0900
> run_im default
> # im-config signiture: b4adf8baabbc92cf765f58e30f74c5e5  -
> ----
>  * No new variables to remember.
>  * No cryptic symlink firm in your home directory.
>  * Very intuitive and hands free.
>  * "im-config" command guide you properly in localized language what to
>   install to get additional features.
>  * dialogue supports both X(GTK) and non-X.
>  * protection of user configuration.
> =======================================================================
> !       Basic design of im-config
> =======================================================================
> 1. If an reasonable and single set of input method packages is
>   installed, im-config activates it automatically for all users by
>   default. (recommended situation)
> 2. If several reasonable sets of input method packages are installed,
>   im-config activates the most reasonable one automatically for all
>   users by default.
> 3. It provides a reasonably simple GUI configuration menu which is off
>   for the system menu by the default.  Menu selected user configuration
>   can override the system default.  Menu should normally show only
>   available input methods on the system.
> 4. Its configuration files are intuitive and its contents can be manually
>   overridden easily as a POSIX shell hook script.
> 5. Menu configuration system is smart enough to detect manual changes of
>   configuration by editor and honors such changes.
> 6. POSIX shell script is internationalized via gettext.sh
> Regards,
> Osamu
> --
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YunQiang Su

YunQiang Su
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