Using ibus-typing-booster for predictive typing in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Update 16 July 2020: The package ibus-typing-booster has been accepted to Debian/Ubuntu. Therefore, you do not need anymore to use the testing PPA that was mentioned in the original post here. This post has been updated to reflect the change.

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS has switched to using the IBus input framework for most (all?) languages, even those based on the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek scripts. Typing in English is not that demanding for your operating system; there is a one to one association between the key you press, and the result you see on your screen. But if you have to type accents, or type in some more complex script, then you need a more advanced input framework.

You wouldn’t notice a difference when typing on Ubuntu 20.04, unless your language has accents and when you type, you press special key combinations to add those accents. For example, «αηδόνι». Notice the accent on the «ο». When you type the accent and then the «ο», you get visual information on the imminent composition of «ό».

Typing in Greek on Ubuntu 20.04. Input is handled by IBus, and by default we can see visually the addition of the accents while typing.

But is it worth the effort to switch to something more complex when the old way used to work just fine? That’s a perennial question. My view is that once you switch to an input framework, you can do much more advanced and exciting things. This post is about using the ibus-typing-booster plugin to IBus that adds predictive typing to the Linux desktop. Oh, you can also type emoji easily. 👍

Installing ibus-typing-booster to Ubuntu 20.04

Gunnar Hjalmarsson maintains a package at the ibus-typing-booster PPA. Follow the instructions to install on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, for now. Gunnar has uploaded the package on Debian’s NEW queue and it is just a matter of months for the package to get accepted.

Gunnar Hjalmarsson created the package for Debian/Ubuntu and it has been accepted to the distribution repositories. Therefore, you can now either install from the Ubuntu Software application, or using the following command.

sudo apt-get install ibus-typing-booster

Then, log out and log in into Ubuntu 20.04. A reboot is good as well.

Configuring ibus-typing-booster in Ubuntu 20.04

We are adding the layout for the ibus-typing-booster to Ubuntu 20.04.

Go to Settings and click on Region & Language.You will see the current keyboard layouts (above the red arrow). There are two here, English (US) and Greek. Click on the + sign to add a new one.
We are adding a different layout from the existing English and Greek layouts. Therefore, click on those three vertical dots to open up adding other layouts.
The three vertical dots expand, and the list becomes somewhat longer, still covering any layout based on the two main language on my setup, English and Greek layouts. Still, click on Other as shown with the red arrow.
The list becomes bigger, therefore perform a search at the bottom of the window. Search for “typing”, in order to see “Other (Typing Booster)” in the list. Click to select it.
We have clicked to select it. And we can click on the green button that adds it to our system.
We have added the Typing Booster input method. In this setup, I have English (US), Greek and “Other (Typing Booster)”.
We can see Typing Booster in the keyboard layout applet. We are set to go.

We have configured the Typing Booster and are ready to start typing.

Using the Typing Booster

When you switch to the Typing Booster input method, you are boosting the last keyboard layout that you had selected. This previous sentence was the most important one in this whole post.

You can still use your existing keyboard layouts as normal, but if you want to boost one of them, them switch from that keyboard layout to the Typing Booster input method. The keyboard layout is then boosted, until you switch out of the Typing Booster.

We type using completion, i.e. predictive typing. As we type, there are candidates, which we may select instead of typing the whole thing.

Selecting a candidate can be done in several ways,

  1. Using the mouse.
  2. Using the arrow keys.
  3. Pressing the number of the candidate in the list.
  4. Pressing the corresponding function keys (F1 for 1, F2 for 2, etc).


The Typing Booster has many settings and can do many things. I think the important aspect is to use it and get used to using it. Initially it might be awkward when you type. But as you type more, the Typing Booster learns the words you are typing and becomes from intelligent in suggesting better candidates.

As soon as Gunnar’s package gets promoted out of the NEW queue, the package will make it into the universe repository and will be available to all. If you know someone that can look into the this, point them at the URL above. The package has been moved to the universe repository and is available to all for easy install.

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    • styxman on August 25, 2020 at 11:05

    Thanks for showing this, especially the most important phrase in the post 🙂 A little weird that the post is in English but the sshots in Ελληνικά 🙂 At least gave me another opportunity to try to read it. Took me a while to figure out US, UK and Singapour. The only one I’m not sure is “Angliká (Nigiría)”?

    1. Thanks!

      I used Greek as an example since there is a case of stacking two accents (modern Greek). Other mainstream Latin-based scripts go up to a single accent.

      The UI stayed in Greek as an added difficulty. I hope it did not dissuade many visitors from appreciating the post.

      Νιγηρία is Nigeria.

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