See also:


To enable the Amharic Ethiopian locale, the /etc/sysconfig/i18n file needs to contain:


To alleviate boot overhead with UTF-8 locales, we'd like to move this setting to a later point in the boot process. olpc-dm would be a good candidate.


F7 glibc does not even boot when am_ET is enabled, but it's not obvious why. Suffice to say that the output of ls comes out sorted by strlen() when am_ET is enabled!!!

glibc-2.6 from F8 is ok, but I can't find an obvious patch to backport. The only recent addition to the am_ET locale has been to discard accents in string comparisons.

Moreover, the glibc-2.6 rpm post-install scriptlet fails silently on jffs2, corrupting the locale archive. It happens because the build-locale-archive tool tries to use a shared writable file map which is not supported.

The glibc-2.6 rpm is available from OlpcBernieRepo.


A good candidate that provides high-quality Ethiopian glyphs is the Abyssinica-SIL.ttf, which is not packaged in Fedora.

I grabbed the TTF file from the Debian package ttf-sil-abyssinica-1.0 and temporarily installed it in /home/olpc/.fonts/

ET keyboard layout

The updated xkeyboard-config RPM shipped with latest builds already contains the "et" keyboard layout.

This can set in xorg.conf, or loaded for testing like so:

setxkbmap -v -model olpc et

The "=" key is not working in current builds, but Sergey has already fixed it upstream and we'll pick it up with the next update.


Sergey's Compose file for am_ET is already upstream, and it is required for XIM-baded composition to work in all applications.

I prepared an updated RPM and staged in OlpcBernieRepo.

Even with this new RPM installed, XIM does not appear to work in Abiword and other utilities I tried.

Furthermore, the Compose works by pressing a vowel, followed by a consonant, which seems to be a less convenient way of producing glyphs (see below)


GTK contains an Amharic input method which is currently outdated. I'm in contact with the author, Daniel Yacob, who'll soon port his latest patch to the current version of GTK. This probably means we'll have to fork the gtk2 package too. I'm unable to tell how important these changes would be for users.

Lidet Tilahun, a professor of Ethiopian at Harvard, tried typing on the XO with this IM and confirmed that this would be the preferred method. It's basically CONSONANT+VOWEL, with a way to switch in a CONSONANT-only mode.

Additionally, it seems this IM requires the "us" keyboard. I couldn't get it to work with the "et" keyboard loaded. Daniel says it shouldn't happen.


We couldn't get glyph composing to give correct visual feedback on the XO.

On F7, Abiword works fine, but it's an old version that still used Xft directly. The version we use now switched to pango and apparently regressed on this.

I asked uwog about it and he suggested me to file a bug upstream. Without this fix, the IM is still usable, but very unfriendly.

Other Gtk applications

I tried installing gedit on an XO, and I couldn't get neither the Amharic, nor the XIM input methods to work with it.

Works fine on F7.

Misc issues

System stability appears to be somewhat compromised when all the above changes are enabled.

I've seen activities crashing randomly and funny rendering problems.