Tag : polytonic

Ubuntu Font Beta and Greek

Update: All open bugs for this font at https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntufontbetatesting/+bugs File your bug. Currently there bugs relating to Greek, 1. Letter γ ((U03B3) has an untypical style 2.  In letters with YPOGEGRAMMENI, YPOGEGRAMMENI is expected to be under not on the right and 3. Many Greek small letters have untypical style

Here we see some samples of Greek with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Ubuntu Font supports both Greek and Greek Polytonic.

In the following we compare between DejaVu Sans (currently the default font in Ubuntu) and the proposed Ubuntu Font Beta.

Screenshot Waterfall DejaVuSans

This is DejaVu Sans, showing the Greek Unicode Block. This means, modern Greek and Coptic.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuBeta Greek

This is Ubuntu Font Beta, showing the Greek Unicode Block. Coptic is not covered as it was not part of the requirements for this version of the font (actually Coptic currently uses a separate new Unicode Block so the Coptic here are too low of a priority).

Screenshot-Waterfall DejaVu Polytonic

This is DejaVu Sans showing the Greek Polytonic Unicode Block coverage. We show the second part of the Unicode Block which has the most exotic characters with up to three accents.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuFont Beta Polytonic

Same thing with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Note that those characters that appear as empty boxes are characters that either were not designed by the font designers, or are reserved characters that have not been defined yet.

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 12pt)

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 10pt)

If there are things to be fixed, this is the time to do them. Post a comment and we can take if further.

Traditionally, the letters γ and ν tend to have a unique form. In this case, in Ubuntu Font Beta, γ looks different to what a Greek user is accustomed to. I attach an SVG file of γ; if you have suggestions for enhancement, please use Inkscape, this gamma_UbuntuBeta-Regular file and make your suggestion!

(see top of post for link to bug reports)

How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux

Update 2010: Please see the docs.google.com edition of the guide as it has the latest material. See link below.

There is a new guide on how to write Greek and Greek Polytonic in Linux, and in particular using the latest versions of Linux distributions.

https://docs.google.com/View?docID=dccdrjqk_4cqjn9zcj (LATEST VERSION)

The guide shows in detail how to add the Greek keyboard layout to your Linux desktop, and how to write Greek, Greek Polytonic and other Ancient Greek characters.

The guide is also available in both ODT and PDF format. (both files are somewhat obsolete. use google docs URL from above instead)

For a Greek version of the guide, please see http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dccdrjqk_3gx3bq5f9 (does not update as often as the English version)

We attach the HTML version of the guide in this post. The docs.google.com version is the latest, please read that instead.

Again, you can find the latest version of this document at

Ενημερωμένος οδηγός γραφής ελληνικών (και πολυτονικό)

Ενημέρωσα τον οδηγό για το γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικό) και είναι διαθέσιμος από τη σελίδα


Είναι διαθέσιμος ο οδηγός για γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικού) σε μορφή PDF.

Είναι διαθέσιμος ο οδηγός για γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικού) σε μορφή ODT.

Ο οδηγός περιγράφει τη δυνατότητα γραφής μονοτονικού, πολυτονικού και αρχαίων ελληνικών χαρακτήρων. Ο οδηγός αυτός διορθώνει μια σειρά από αβλεψίες στις οδηγίες.

Ο οδηγός ισχύει για τις διανομές Fedora 11 (ή νεώτερες), Ubuntu Linux 9.04 (ή νεώτερες) και άλλες διανομές που θα βγουν την Άνοιξη του 2009. Για προηγούμενες διανομές, δείτε τις οδηγίες (και τον αντίστοιχο παλαιότερο οδηγό) από το παρόν ιστολόγιο για το πως μπορείτε να προσθέσετε την νέα ελληνική διάταξη πληκτρολογίου.

Κάθε σχόλιο για βελτίωση του οδηγού είναι ευπρόσδεκτο.

Updated to Ubuntu 8.10

I just updated my system to Ubuntu 8.10. Since I had a separate partition for /home, I opted to actually reinstall while retaining the files in /home. The rest of the post is a laundry list of tips.

I could not find a blank CD or CDRW, so I opted to write the installation 8.10 ISO to a USB stick, then rebooted with the USB stick and finally installed. It was really fast and and convenient.

All hardware was properly detected (sound card: snd-hda-intel, wifi: iwl3945, bluetooth, intel graphics card). Regarding the sound card, some kind soul probably submitted the PCI ID and model information to the ALSA project, so there is no need anymore to specify manually.

I upgraded the stock OpenOffice.org 2.4.1 to OpenOffice.org 3.0. There are many ways to do it, however the easiest is to simply add the software source

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/openoffice-pkgs/ubuntu intrepid main

and let the system update itself automatically. For more on this, see the instructions at softpedia.

OpenOffice.org does not support OpenType fonts yet. I had the impression that OpenOffice.org 3.0 could see OpenType fonts but had trouble printing or exporting to PDF. My test showed that OOo 3.0 could not see OpenType fonts such as the ttf-gfs-* fonts, even when trying to force loading with spadmin. OpenType support is scheduled for the next version of OpenOffice.org. For now, we can use the wide range of TTF fonts.

I installed VirtualBox by adding the repository details described at the VirtualBox Linux Download webpage. Then, I tried to search with Add/Remove or Synaptic, however I could not find the virtuabox package. Only the virtualbox-ose packages were visible. It appears there is some sort of bug in the package description. If you open Synaptic, then click on the Origin (Προέλευση) filter which shows packages per repository. Select the virtualbox repository and you can eventually see virtualbox-2.0. Pretty weird.

For Evolution Mail, previously one would package the files manually and then restore them. This was error-prone because the account information are saved in gconf, the passwords in ~/.gnome2_private, etc. The proper solution is to remember to perform a backup before installing a new version of Ubuntu. In Ubuntu 8.04 and Evolution (from GNOME 2.22) there is an option to backup your settings, which includes mails and all. You finally restore in your new system; when the new Evolution starts for the first time, you are asked whether you want to restore a previous backup.

Firefox would freeze momentarily for some strange reason. I run from the command line and I noticed that some pages that had references to Flash material would freeze Firefox while trying to locate the Flash plugin. This was solved be installing flashplugin-nonfree.

I installed the updated Greek layout, so I can now type ϡϠϸϕϟαϛϚϖϐʹ͵ϻϺ«»ᾶᾅἒᾥ in the same layout.

Update #1: Ubuntu 8.10 works better with a dual head configuration. In System/Preferences/Screen resolution, you can activate the second display. The utility realises that the (currently) hard-coded maximum virtual display is not big enough to accomodate both monitors, and it asks you to edit automatically the xorg configuration file in order to add the setting for you. After a logout and re-login sequences, dual head works. Sadly for my graphics card, this means that there is no 3D support in this mode. With Intel 965GM, if the virtual screen does not fit in 2048×2048, then you no can haz 3D. Actually, if I align the displays vertically, they do fit and I would be able to get 3D.

Update #2: Time to put the system temperature sensors (CPU, hard disk). For the backend, we install the lm-sensors and hddtemp packages. With lm-sensors, we need to run sudo sensors-detect so that the appropriate settings can be detected. If you have a recent Intel CPU, this will probably find that you need to add the coretemp kernel module to /etc/modules, then reboot to activate it. For the hard disk temperature, simply install hddtemp and choose yes when prompted to add the hddtemp service. For the front-end, install the sensors-applet applet. You need to logout and login again so that this applet, called Hardware Sensors Monitor, appears in the applets list. Once you add, click to enable all available sensors in the preferences.

Οδηγός πολυτονικού – Write Greek Polytonic

Update 10th May 2009: If you have Ubuntu 9.04 (or Fedora 11), Greek and Greek Polytonic works out of the box with the default Greek layout. For more, see https://blog.simos.info/archives/888 The rest of this blog post remains only for historical purposes and does not apply any more.

Update 17th Nov 2008: If you have Ubuntu 8.10 (or Fedora 10, etc) and you just need to write Greek Polytonic without any hassle, simply add the Greek Polytonic layout from the Keyboard Layout settings, and that’s it! This post describes how to install an enhanced layout that adds together in the same layout all Unicode characters from the Greek and Greek Extended Unicode block, and specifically archaic characters.

This post is about writing Greek Polytonic using a new combined Greek layout that supports Greek, Greek Polytonic/Attic (ᾂᾷᾰᾱᾢᾥ) and Archaic (ͼϾϡϠϲϹϟϞ…). This layout is already added to the xkeyboard-config project, however it did not make it to Ubuntu 8.10.

You may want to add this layout manually to your distribution. If your distribution is based on GNOME 2.22 (as in Ubuntu 8.04), you will be able to use Greek and Archaic (Polytonic would not work without further changes). If your distribution is based on GNOME 2.24 or newer (as in Ubuntu 8.10), you will be able to write Greek, Polytonic and Archaic characters.

wget http://simos.info/ubuntu/gr -O gr
sudo cp /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gr /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gr.ORIGINAL
sudo cp gr /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/

You type Greek Polytonic by pressing, for example, AltGr + [ + α = ᾶ, AltGr + } + α =ᾱ

You type Greek Archaic characters with AltGr + k = ϟ, AltGr + K =Ϟ, and so on.

Same instructions, but in Greek:

Αυτή είναι η ανακοίνωση για τον οδηγό γραφής πολυτονικού με το σύστημα ΧΚΒ (λειτουργικό σύστημα Linux),


Ο οδηγός δεν είναι πλήρης και δεν αντικατοπτρίζει την τρέχουσα κατάσταση, μιας και έχουν γίνει σημαντικές αλλαγές πριν από λίγες εβδομάδες.

Ο στόχος της ανάρτησης αυτής είναι να προσκαλέσει άτομα να βελτιώσουν το κείμενο.


Αν έχετε Ubuntu 8.10, μπορείτε να βάλετε τη διάταξη http://simos.info/ubuntu/gr που θα επιτρέψει να γράψετε χαρακτήρες όπως ϡϠϛϚϟϞϖϐʹ͵ͼϾ. Αυτό γίνεται πατώντας AltGr και διάφορους χαρακτήρες του αλφαβήτου.

Ακόμα, θα μπορείτε να γράψετε πολυτονικό από τη βασική ελληνική διάταξη, με χρήση του AltGr και των χαρακτήρων ;’][. Για παράδειγμα, AltGr + [ + α = ᾶ.

wget http://simos.info/ubuntu/gr -O gr
sudo cp /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gr /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gr.ORIGINAL
sudo cp gr /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/

Μετά πάμε και επιλέγουμε την ελληνική βασική διάταξη (προεπιλογή, όχι πια το Πολυτονικό).

Αν έχετε Ubuntu 8.04, τότε η παραπάνω τροποποίηση θα επιτρέψει να γράφετε τα ϡϠϟϞ κτλ (όχι πολυτονικό).

StixFonts, finally available (beta)!

The STIX Fonts project (website) has been developing for over 10 years a font suitable to be used in academic publications. It boasts support from Elsevier, IEEE and other academic publishers or associations.

A few days ago, they published a beta version of the font in an effort to get public feedback. The beta period runs until the 15th December.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Regular), from STIX Fonts Beta

STIX Fonts Beta currently support modern Greek. An effort to get support for Greek Polytonic did not work out well a few years back.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Italic), from STIX Fonts Beta

The main benefit of STIX Fonts is the support for mathematical and other technical symbols. This helps when writing academic publications and other technical documents.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Bold), from STIX Fonts Beta

STIX Fonts have extensive support of mathematical symbols, symbols that exist in Unicode Plane-1.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Bold Italic), from STIX Fonts Beta

If there is any modification that we would like to have in STIX fonts, we should do now. Once they are released, they will be widely distributed. Currently, Fedora has packaged STIX Fonts and made them available already.

Cannot write Greek Polytonic in Linux

For up to date instructions for Greek and Greek Polytonic see How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux.

The following text is kept for historical purposes. Greek and Greek Polytonic now works in Linux, using the default Greek layout.

General Update: If you have Ubuntu 8.10, Fedora 10 or a similarly new distribution, then Greek Polytonic works out-of-the-box. Simply select the Greek Polytonic layout. For more information, see the recent Greek Polytonic post.

Update 3rd May 2008: If you have Ubuntu 8.04 (probably applies to other recent Linux distributions as well), you simply need to add GTK_IM_MODULE=xim to /etc/environment. Start a Terminal (Applications/Accessories/Terminal) and type the commands (the first command makes a backup copy of the configuration file, and the second opens the configuration file with administrative priviliges, so that you can edit and save):

$ gksudo cp /etc/environment /etc/environment.ORIGINAL
$ gksudo gedit /etc/environment

then append


save, and restart your computer. It should work now. Try to test with the standard Text editor, found in Accessories.

In Ubuntu 8.10 (autumn 2008), it should work out of the box, just by enabling the Greek Polytonic layout.

Update 20th June 2008: If still some accents/breathings/aspirations do not work, then this is probably related to your system locale (whether it is Greek or not). It works better when it is Greek. If you are affected and you do not use the Greek locale, there is one more thing to do.

$ gksudo cp /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose.ORIGINAL
$ gksudo cp /usr/share/X11/locale/el_GR.UTF-8/Compose /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose

The first command makes a backup copy of your original en_US Compose file (assuming you run an English locale; if in doubt, read /usr/share/X11/locale/locale.dir). The second command copies the Greek compose file over the English one. You then logout and login again.

End of updates

To write Greek Polytonic in Linux, a special file is used, which is called the compose file. There is a bit of complication here in the sense that the compose file depends on the current system locale.

To find out which compose file is active on your system, have a look at


Let’s assume your system locale is en_US.UTF-8 (Start Applications/Accessories/Terminal and type locale).

In the compose.dir file it says

en_US.UTF-8/Compose: en_US.UTF-8

Note that the locale is the second field. If you have a different system locale, match on the second field. Many people make a mistake here. Actually, I think be faster for the system to locate the entry if the compose.dir file was sorted by locale.

Therefore, the compose file is


So, what’s the problem then?

Well, for the Greek locale (el_GR.UTF-8) we have a different compose file, a compose file in which Greek Polytonic actually works ;-).

Therefore, there are numerous workarounds here to get Greek Polytonic working.

For example,

  • If you speak modern Greek, you can install the Greek locale.
  • You can edit /usr/share/X11/locale/compose.dir so that for your locale, the compose file is the Greek one, /usr/share/X11/locale/el_GR.UTF-8/Compose.
  • You can edit the Greek compose file, take the Greek Polytonic section and update the Greek Polytonic section of en_US.UTF-8/Compose.
  • You can copy the Greek compose file in your home directory under the name .XCompose. I did not try this one, and also you may be affected by this bug. (not tested)

Of course the proper solution is to update en_US.UTF-8/Compose with the updated Greek Polytonic compose sequences. There is a tendency to add the compose sequences of all languages to en_US.UTF-8/Compose, and this actually is happening now. In this respect, it would make sense to rename en_US.UTF-8/Compose into something like general/Compose.

Can you read Coptic?

Coptic is the most recent phase of ancient Egyptian. It is the direct descendant of the ancient language written in Egyptian hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts. The Coptic alphabet is a slightly modified form of the Greek alphabet, with some letters (which vary from dialect to dialect) deriving from demotic. As a living language of daily conversation, Coptic flourished from ca. 200 to 1100. The last record of its being spoken was during the 17th century. Coptic survives today as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Egyptian Arabic is the spoken and national language of Egypt today.

Source: Wikipedia on Coptic Language

Coptic, as used today, has signs of influence from the Greek language. If you speak Greek, you should be able to recognise every entry in the screenshot (it comes from the dictionary that is available from http://copticlang.bizhat.com/).

There is a Coptic Unicode block and there are at least three Unicode fonts available with Coptic glyphs.

I am not aware of a keyboard definition to write Unicode Coptic; Coptic uses several combining diacritical marks (accents) and appears to surpass even Ancient Greek/Polytonic in this respect. An easy way to create (easy to write with?) method would be to start from the Greek keyboard layout and replace the codepoints with the Coptic ones. For the 9 combining diacritical marks, three keys should be dedicated, accessible through 1) pressing as is, 2) pressing with shift, 3) pressing with Alt. To avoid using dead keys, there would be a requirement to type first the letter and then the diacritical mark.

In modern Greek we use the “;:” key (on the right of L) to produce the acute and the diaeresis (with Shift) accents. The second suitable key could be the ‘ ” key while the third the “/?” (debateable).

There are several efforts to convert non-Unicode fonts distributed by the Coptic Church. website. Moheb added the Coptic glyphs to the Freefonts. There is more work required to get them added by default to Linux distros. There is a discussion forum on Coptic.

Therefore, the most important task is to create a keyboard layout so that one can write in Unicode Coptic.

Then, existing (non-Unicode) text should be converted to Unicode Coptic so that there is material available. Moheb created support for this in iconv (glibc). There should be a bug report at http://sources.redhat.com/bugzilla/ under product glibc, component libc.

Source: Wikipedia (Coptic script)

There exist free Unicode fonts already to have the text displayed. The conversion of the Coptic Church fonts to Unicode would be beneficial as well. To have them included in Linux distros, the distribution license should be set to one of the FLOSS licenses. An option could be to add to the DejaVu fonts (allowed by the license) so that there is a general purpose open font that is easy to work with.

I, for one, would love to write Greek using a Coptic keyboard layout and a Coptic Unicode font. 🙂

Update: Screenshot that demonstrates how well Unicode Coptic fonts behave when combining marks are used.

Update #2: You can test the above on your system by opening this OpenDocument file using OpenOffice.org or any other OpenDocument-compatible application. OpenOffice.org was verified that it can show combining marks. Your mileage may vary, your comments will be appreciated.

Get Unicode fonts with Coptic coverage.

Γράψιμο ελληνικών μέσα από GNOME

Ενημέρωση 2010: Δείτε τις νεώτερες οδηγίες στο How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux. Το να γράψουμε τώρα ελληνικά σε Linux είναι ό,τι πιο εύκολο.

Οι παρακάτω οδηγίες είναι για πολύ παλιά έκδοση του Linux και δεν τις συνιστούμε πια.

Υπάρχουν διάφοροι τρόποι να γράψει κανείς ελληνικά στο X.org. Εδώ θα δούμε τον τρόπο μέσα από το γραφικό περιβάλλον GNOME. Οι δοκιμές έγιναν σε Fefora Core 2.

Θεωρούμε ότι έχουμε καθορίσει το ελληνικό locale, δηλαδή:

$ locale

Όχι, el_GR δεν είναι ίδιο με el_GR.UTF-8. Είναι σημαντικό να εμφανίζεται el_GR.UTF-8. Δείτε την τεκμηρίωση της διανομής σας για να αλλάξετε το locale. Ακόμα, η χρήση του προγράμματος setxkbmap επηρεάζει αυτό που δοκιμάζουμε εδώ, οπότε μην το εκτελέσετε.

Κάνουμε δεξί κλικ στο ταμπλώ της επιφάνειας εργασίας.

Επιλέγουμε Ενδείκτη Πληκτρολογίου.

Στο ταμπλώ θα εμφανιστεί η προεπιλεγμένη γλώσσα, Αγγλικά Πληκτρολογίου USA.

Κάνουμε δεξί κλικ στο εφαρμογίδιο του Ενδείκτη Πληκτρολογίου (πάνω στο USA) και επιλέγουμε Άνοιγμα Προτιμήσεων Πληκτρολογίου.

Εμφανίζεται ο διάλογος των προτιμήσεων.

Κάνουμε κλικ στις διατάξεις. Προεπιλεγμένη είναι η διάταξη Αγγλικά Αμερικανικού Πληκτρολογίου. Τα ονόματα των διατάξεων έχουν πλέον μεταφραστεί και θα εμφανιστούν στα ελληνικά σε επόμενη έκδοση της διανομής σας.

Προσθέτουμε ελληνικά στις διατάξεις και μεταβαίνουμε στις Επιλογές Διάταξης.

Εδώ επιλέγουμε τον συνδιασμό πλήκτρων για την μεταφορά μεταξύ της αγγλικής και ελληνικής κατάστασης πληκτρολογίου. Λόγω ενός σφάλματος που διερευνούμε, δε λειτουργούν σωστά οι συνδιασμοί Alt-Shift, Ctrl-Shift κτλ. Ο συνδιασμός Left-Shift+Right-Shift λειτουργεί κανονικά και τον επιλέγουμε. Έπειτα πατάμε Κλείσιμο.

Ανοίγουμε τον επεξεργαστή κειμένου του GNOME και δοκιμάζουμε να γράψουμε κάτι στα ελληνικά.

Προσθέτουμε την διάταξη Greek Polytonic για να δοκιμάσουμε τη γραφή πολυτονικού.

Θα παρατηρήσουμε ότι υπάρχει πρόβλημα στη γραφή πολυτονικού και συγκεκριμένα με τα ποικίλα τονικά σημάδια.

Κάνουμε δεξί κλικ πάνω στο παράθυρο του επεξεργαστή κειμένου του GNOME και ελέγχουμε την Μέθοδο Εισαγωγής. Είναι Προεπιλογή.

Το αλλάζουμε σε Μέθοδο Εισαγωγής Χ.

Τώρα γράφουμε πολυτονικά.

Το πρόγραμμα αλλαγής πληκτρολογίου που χρησιμοποιήσαμε το έγραψε ο Sergey Oudaltsov.

Η μετάφραση έγινε από τα εικονιζόμενα άτομα.