So, yesterday I upgraded from Ubuntu 7.04 to 8.04. When I was back on 7.04 I was able to type Hebrew characters as well as Greek characters with accents, breathing marks, etc. Given my status as a student and aspiring Biblical scholar, such abilities are a must for my operating system.
My only problems were that the keymaps for both Greek and Hebrew seemed a little…odd. So, when I installed 8.04, I wanted to at least attempt to find a more intuitive keymap. Ubuntu now comes standard with a Biblical Hebrew keymap (located under “Israel” in the keyboard selector). However, the keymap appears to be less than finished; or perhaps I just couldn’t figure it out. Regardless, it was not the intuitive keyboard for which I was hoping.
If I may digress a bit, intuitive, to me, has to do with sound. For instance, patach and kamets should be mapped to the A on my keyboard. Final letters should be, generally speaking, typed by using shift+.
After a bit of googling, I found exactly the thing I wanted. Even more amazingly, is the work of Vern Poythress! I didn’t even know the man used Linux, let alone made keymaps for it. Interestingly, the article linked above is new as of this month (Aug. 2008). Anyway, I had already installed SBL Hebrew, and so it was simply a matter of copying the keymap files to the correct places (a fairly easy operation, made even easier by the walkthrough provided), and selecting them using the Gnome keyboard selector. Now I can type in Biblical Hebrew (including accents and vowels) as well as Polytonic (ie, classical) Greek with ease.
Mandy is again jealous that I use Linux. Her response when I began typing Joshua 1.1 in Hebrew, with CTL enabled in OpenOffice; “What?! You don’t have to type backwards?” No. No I don’t.