Accessing Big5 BBS under Linux

Can anyone help me figure out how to access a Chinese BBS under Mandrake Linux using Gnome?

I have installed Mandrake in Chinese, and I have Chinese displaying in a few different places. However, I can’t figure out how to do Chinese input under Xcin. How do I switch input methods? Can I use Hanyu Pinyin under Xcin?

Also, when I use GTelnet to log on to KKCity (bbs://, the characters don’t show up right. They show as garbage, so apparently the client isn’t recognizing them as Big5. How do I set this? I’ve already set the font as Fixed (Taipei), but it still doesn’t show up right.

I have used PuTTy under Win98 and the characters showed up just fine. I couldn’t find a way to do Chinese input, however, so I’m trying Mandrake instead. I own TwinBridge for Windows, but there are many, many programs that it doesn’t work under, and PuTTy is one of them.

Please help if you can, and thanks in advance for doing so…

  1. Open an rxvt terminal
  2. Type ‘export LC_CTYPE=zh_TW.big5’ (no quotes)
  3. If you have Chinese fonts, this should work. You did install the Chinese version of Mandrake right?


  • Control-Space to switch from English to Chinese.
  • Control-Shift to change the input method.

Thanks for responding, Feiren! As it turns out, everything was installed right, but I just didn’t have the localization set to Chinese/Taiwan! Doh! :blush:

Now, on to the next set of problems…

I have XCin working. I have just figured out that I have to use correct tones to do input. Is there a way to set it to ignore tones? The Microsoft Pinyin input system usually guessed pretty well what characters I wanted even when I didn’t specify tones. (Plus, my tones aren’t that good. :smiley: ) Also, is there a way to get rid of some of the (for me) extraneous input systems – Cantonese, ku, etc.?

Also, every time I try to open GTelnet now under either Gnome or KDE, I get a “Floating Point Exception” error and GTelnet closes itself. Is there a way to fix this, or is there another Linux Telnet client that has similar utility?

Again, thanks in advance for any help…

I think you do need to enter the correct tones. Personally I think this is a feature because it forces you to know the tones. You can ask about this on the XCIN mailing list. See

To remove input systems, check the /etc/xcinrc file. You shouold be able to comment out the input methods you don;t need. You may also have a.xcinrc file in your home directory. If so, be sure to modify that file as well since, as usualy, the config files in your home directory take precedence over those elsewhere. Remember to always make a copy of your config files before you start to play.

Most people in Taiwan use rxvt as their telnet client. It is much more savvy about Asian languages than other clients.

Thanks again for the help, Feiren! I’ve gotten things working nicely, except (didn’t you just know there was going to be an ‘except’?) I can’t get Chinese input to work under rxvt. I can view Chinese characters quite easily, but when I open XCin, the cursor changes styles but I never get the little blue menu showing what kind of input system I’m using. I can’t see any visible changes when I use ctrl+shift. If I try typing, it just comes out as English.

And again, thanks in advance for any help you can render…

Okay, to partially answer my own question, I found a howto that seems to answer a lot of my questions. Towards the bottom of the page, the author mentions that it’s probably impossible to do Chinese input in a terminal until you do a few things:

[quote]Bash Shell: Appending the following contents into /etc/profile, please.

stty cs8 -istrip
stty pass8
export LANG=C
export LC_CTYPE=iso-8859-1

Tcsh Shell: Appending the following contents into /etc/csh.login or in /etc/csh.cshrc, please.

stty cs8 -istrip
stty pass8
setenv LANG C
setenv LC_CTYPE iso-8859-1

$HOME/.inputrc file for setup lists as follows:

set convert-meta off
set output-meta on[/quote]

My next problem is, I don’t understand how to do those things. First, the author says to go into the Bash shell. This is the normal shell in a terminal, right? How do I append the quoted material into /etc/profile? It looks like I should just be able to go into a text editor and add those things, but then why does the author say to do it through the Bash shell?

Next problem: what is a Tcsh shell, and how do I get into it? Or is this just presented as an alternative to the Bash shell?

Finally, what does

[quote]$HOME/.inputrc file for setup lists as follows:

set convert-meta off
set output-meta on[/quote]

mean? It looks like I just need to edit a file, but I’m such a newbie, I can’t tell the difference between things I need to put into a file and things I need to do at the shell prompt.

As always, any help is very appreciated.[/quote]

I finally figured out what the problem is. I did a Google search on Usenet, not Web pages, and found a great explanation. Translated, it says:

[quote]MDK 9.1’s RXvt has a bug. Change the following to get Chinese input:

Look at /usr/bin/X11/crxvt, line 209. Change the contents to read something like @im=$XIM-zh_TW.

In addition, if you’d like to use telnet to connect to a BBS, please add a -L, e.g.: telnet -L[/quote]

Just in case anyone was wondering, you see…