I am trying out minimalist window managers such as, but not limited to, Xmonad, ScrotWM, ratpoison, etc. Since I occasionally need to enter Traditional Chinese characters, how do I install an input manager that lets me switch between input methods easily, such as through a hotkey combo? Any instructions would be appreciated.

  • 1
    I doubt this is really window manager specific; the window manager mostly just manages windows. If you're using the WM to catch the hotkey and run the program that part is WM-specific, but you're really just looking for a program that lets you switch input methods so you can tell your WM to run it when you press a certain hotkey Dec 7, 2010 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


As Michael suggests, the window manager is not responsible for managing the input method. First you will need to choose an input method, of which IBus, SCIM and uim appear to be the most popular.

Next, you need to make sure it is started when X is launched. You've mentioned you are using a lightweight WM, therefore you'll likely want to add it to an X init file, such as ~/.xinitrc:

export GTK_IM_MODULE=scim
export QT_IM_MODULE=scim
scim -d

Depending on the input method you choose, the method to switch languages will differ. Typically, you'll need to export LANG, such as

export LANG=ja_JA.UTF-8

... but sometimes right clicking on an input field and choosing "Input Methods" may suffice.


I use Ratpoison WM. To type Chinese, I simply added IBUS to the ~/.ratpoisonrc file, which then starts IBUS when you start Ratpoison. The line looks like this:

exec ibus-daemon --xim

If you aren't using Ratpoison, arrange to launch ibus-daemon --xim when your X session start by whatever means your window manager or session manager provides.

Then, to start typing in Chinese, type both Control+SpaceBar as normal.

  • Isn't Control+SpaceBar reserved by ratpoison to visit the next window by default? i'm asking, because I use ratpoison as well, and I can't seem to find how to activate ibus (inputing japanese). Am I supposed to switch to a japanese keyboard layout first?
    – user30747
    Aug 15, 2018 at 2:45

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