How does language support work in Lubuntu?

There are a few things that I do not clearly understand concerning the way languages and language-related features are used on Ubuntu. (I’m on Lubuntu.) They are all related, and I guess I can post them together.

It is clear that the first selection of the main language is done during the installation of the OS. Then, different languages can be installed through Language Support.

But already, here are some things that are unclear. Opening Language support I see this:

enter image description here

English US is the language I selected during installation, and that I use for my computer. But I never installed the other English languages.

What are the English languages (UK, US, South Africa, Australia, etc.) that are installed when selecting English as the main language? I guess not all are.

I remember that spelling for UK was missing, and I had to install it separately. (See this question). French and Romanian are installed by me in Language Support.

But, what about the other ones (German, Chinese) in the image above?

I see that in Lubuntu, I can select different keyboard layouts from the same language, display, select them, and use them through the Keyboard Layout Handler from LXPanel, and that all sort of keyboard layouts can be added for languages that are not installed.

So, a certain part of the language-support (namely keyboard layouts) is installed although languages themselves (displayed language of system and programs) are not. What about spelling, thesaurus and such?

What is the relation between language support for programs and the spelling in different languages in text editors and internet browsers?

Installing languages in Language Support, means installing support for system and programs in those languages and at the same time for spelling and other features in text editors?

Beside the English-UK spelling issue (see comment below) I was also intrigued by how keyboard support works and is set.

Now, I understand how to set that (see question and answer), but I would like a clear-cut presentation of the way in which are related these three elements:

  • languages installed in Language Support.
  • Spelling/correctors (spellcheckers, thesaurus, and so forth) in text editors and internet browsers.
  • keyboard layouts.
Asked By: user47206


There are different levels where different languages can be set

1) Language of Lubuntu OS menu
2) Language of keyboard input
3) Language of application menus (browsers, LibreOffice, Skype...)
4) Language of spell-checking in each browser and each text editor
5) Language for regional format (date, currency)

There are different languages for each diferent level. You can install Lubuntu menu in English, Chromium browser menu in Romanian, spell-checking in Chromium in French, LibreOffice menu in English, LibreOffice spell-checking in Romanian etc.

May exist 5 different questions about each language setting. If you specify your question in will be possible to explain about choosing language of LibreOffice, Chromium, Firefox etc.

Some languages are installed in the first place along with the system – based on the selected iso and/or on the settings made during installation process.

Spell-checkers are not set at system level but are application-related (like for internet browsers and office suites) and you may need to install those separately (for example, on UK-English spell-check and thesaurus in LibreOffice, here).

Answered By: Ziutek Kirelejson

I’d like to add something.

Linux per default is intended to be used by more then one person.

Just imagine your computer was a shared PC at a university. The main language of your installation may be English, but Linux is capable to switch between languages quite easily.

So you could set a different language for each user. The french teacher, the chinese student, the guy with the German scholarship…. all of them can work on the same PC/server, because they can have a different language pack attached to their account. This is the reason behind this.

As English is spoken in many parts of the world and sometimes with different accents, the system takes care of this up front. Linux or Lubuntu does not know if you are American or from Scotland or New Zealand, it just installs all the different aspects of that language. I’m German and it is the same with me. Austrian and especially the Swiss accent is vastly different from German.

And of course you can mix that up. I always choose to install my system in English but use a German DE_de keyboard with it. You just get more help over the internet with English error messages as with German ones, just because most users speak English and have an English installation.

Answered By: s1mmel