# Three Monkeys, Three Typewriters, Two Days

## May 7, 2003

### Non-English keyboards under X

Today I decided to finally bite the bullet and set up X to let me enter Russian (mostly for e-mail purposes). Surprisingly enough, this was not as hard as I had expected—the HOWTOs and other documentation have gotten a lot better since the last time I considered this endeavor (3 years ago or so).

The time breakdown for this was as follows:

• Find the right documentation and read it: 30 minutes.
• Configure X (experimenting, cursing, finding when reality does not match the HOWTO, discovering by trial and error how XFree86 4.0.1 and 4.3.0 differ, rearranging fonts in my font path, messing with locale environment variables, that sort of thing): 90 minutes.
• Discover that there is no easy way I will be able to learn a standard Russian keyboard (given that the labels on my keys are those for a standard U.S. keyboard): 15 minutes of typing.
• Look for a "transliterated" keyboard layout on the web: 30 minutes.
• Give up on finding one and just write one based on the "ru" keyboard layout: 90 minutes.

Somehow, the whole procedure recalled freshman year in college in my mind. Might have had something to do with the amount of time I spent back then configuring things like mail readers, window managers, X, emacs...

Next project: find time for my annual search for a tool that converts TeX to MathML. The gotchas here are that it needs to deal with the various AMS packages, with things defined via \newtheorem, and with things defined via \def and \newcommand (though I'll settle for just one or the other if both are not supported). Oh, and dealing with \newenvironment would be a nice bonus. (Unlike some, I do not indulge in \catcode or \let much, so it's ok if those are not handled very well...) If you know of such a beast, please let me know.

Posted by bzbarsky at May 7, 2003 10:49 PM