im-config does two things:
It launches an input method framework (e.g. IBus or Fcitx)
It sets a few environment variables which are needed for the input method engines to work.
In standard Ubuntu, which uses GNOME and where IBus is integrated,
im-config does not matter much by default. GNOME launches IBus and configures a couple of variables anyway. The presence of
im-config is useful though for users who want to use some other IM framework but IBus.
In the Ubuntu flavors the
im-config default configuration is of greater importance. For a few cycles now it has worked this way:
In MATE, Kylin and Unity
im-confighas been configured to launch and configure an IM framework by default, i.e. provided that such a thing has been installed, of course.
In the other flavors
im-confighas been configured to launch and configure an IM framework by default only in the case of a CJKV locale.
The reason for the latter is that users who don’t need an input method reported more or less subtle issues which were only present when e.g. IBus or Fcitx was running and configured.
However, this choice leads to confusion for some input method users. Take a Kubuntu user, for instance, who installs the system in English. Then they install some IBus input method, which also pulls IBus itself if not already installed. But “it still does not work”, and the reason is that - due to the current default configuration - they also need to explicitly select “ibus” via
The latest example I saw is this Ask Ubuntu question:
My belief is that it would be better to change the default
im-config configuration for other flavors but MATE, Kylin and Unity so it launches and configures an IM framework by default irrespective of the system locale.
To the extent the subtle issues I mentioned for non-IM users are still there, one way for a flavor to handle it is to not include any IM framework on the ISO. That’s not an option for Lubuntu, though, since it uses Fcitx for managing all input sources, i.e. also XKB keyboard layouts.
I would appreciate feedback on my suggestion from the leaders of the affected flavors.