Keyman sil_IPA with a German Keyboard


I have a laptop with a German keyboard (QWERTZ) and have installed the SIL-IPA keyboard with keyman (Linux Mint). I am trying to type the characters but since my keyboard shows the <,> and = keys at different places than the underlying keyboard for SIL-IPA (which I assume is English QWERTY) I have to first remember or find out where all these modifiying keys are located. Is it possible to get an IPA keyboard for an underlying German keyboard (like MSKLC which I used under Windows7)?
Or is there a way to modify this keyboard?


The SIL IPA keyboard is a mnemonic keyboard which theoretically means it would work with any layout. I think what you may need to do is click on the Keyman Desktop icon in the taskbar, click on Configuration, select Options, go to the bottom where it says Advanced, click on Base keyboard and then select the German keyboard. Then OK, etc. I hope that works for you.

Dear Lorna,

Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately it seems that for Linux

the program looks different: I don’t have a keyman desktop program
where I can configure anything.


I would also like to add that the IPA keyboard is not really
working well.
The modifier “=” (on the EN keyboard location) works whereas the
“>” and “<” don’t work. If I use the German keyboard location
I just get the letter combination (e.g. >n) but not the IPA
character “ŋ”. If I try to use the EN keyboard location, I also just
get the letter combination but not the IPA character.


P.S.: I know this is quite a specific problem not many people would

have - German keyboard and Linux!

Keyman for Linux is relatively new and doesn’t include all the features that Keyman Desktop has.

There’s a Feature table showing some of the differences at

Unfortunately, Keyman for Linux currently doesn’t support mnemonic keyboards.

Hi there,
I know that this is quite an old thread, but I came across it while searching for a solution for the same problem and this might be the case for others as well.
I finally got the IPA SIL keyboard to work in keyman (Xubuntu). It works with a German keyboard as well, but you have to know, where the keys are on the US keyboard. For me the important ones are:
< is ;
> is :
= is ´ (next to backspace)
The special chars above the numbers are also in a different order. Best way is to have a picture of a US Layout and find the keys.
Not nice but I can work with it. Maybe helpful for you too.

Welcome to the community @Ben_s! Thank you for sharing your solution.

At present, as you discovered, Keyman does not support non-US layouts well on Linux (or macOS). We have a tool called mcompile, which is a part of Keyman Desktop (for Windows) which rewrites a keyboard file to support non-US Latin script layouts such as German. It would be possible to use that program (I have no idea if it would run under Wine, sorry) to generate the German QWERTZ layout file and then manually copy that into your Linux installation.

You’d run it with something like the following command:

mcompile -d "C:\ProgramData\Keyman\Keyman Engine\Keyboard\_Package\sil_ipa\sil_ipa.kmx" kbdgr.dll 407 c:\temp\sil_ipa.kmx

Replace the final parameter with the output path for the transformed sil_ipa.kmx. Then copy that file over into your Linux Keyman keyboards path, replacing the existing sil_ipa.kmx.

You can omit the -d parameter if you wish to continue using deadkeys (-d means replace deadkeys with plain keys).

I have attached a zipped version of the transformed sil_ipa.kmx for German here. This is not a ‘supported’ model of doing this but may get things working better for you. This version has the -d flag applied. (7.5 KB)

Hi Ben and Marc,

Ben, thanks for sharing that solution. I figured as much - I mean having to use the US-layout for the keyboard. I haven’t needed IPA except once or twice since I switched from Windows to Linux so I haven’t made myself a cheatsheet for all the keys that are different.
Marc, thanks for sharing about mcompile. Ben, in case you test it, I would be interested to know how it works for you.

@Marc: Thank you so much for your kmx file. It works great with my German keyboard.
I first struggled a bit, because I tried to import the file as a new keyboard. I read afterwards, that you already mentioned in your answer how to handle the file.
@b_mitterhofer: If you also want to try it, the kmx-file you have to replace is located in /home/<user>/.local/share/keyman/sil_ipa/sil_ipa.kmx

Thanks for the update on the file location! I did not have that handy when I wrote my response, so I am glad you found it :slight_smile: It is on our agenda to update mcompile and make it cross-platform, but it’s not a small job because it is currently very dependent on the Windows keyboard file format!

Plans to implement full support for mnemonic layouts are at