The Hebrew HOWTO
Maintained by Yair G. Rajwan, <tt>email@example.com</tt>v0.4, 12 September 1995
This `Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQ) / HOWTO document describes how to configure your Linux machine to use Hebrew characters on X-Windows and Virtual Consoles. The most up-to-date version of the Hebrew-HOWTO may be obtained from my Web page or from <tt>ftp://hobbes.jct.ac.il</tt>.
Any language setup, other than the original American English, has two issues:
There is much more to Hebrew than that (like right to left, geometry in X-Windows,etc), but this HOWTO (at least for the first draft) deals only with the basic issues.
More information can be found in the various "national" HOWTOs
(German, Danish, etc.) and in the ISO 8859-1 HOWTO (
The Linux-il group (Linuxfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Vlad Moseanu (email@example.com)
Gili Granot (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Harvey J. Stein (email@example.com)
Dovie Adler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gavrie Philipson (email@example.com)
To make one thing clear, for once and forever: There is no such thing as 8-bit ASCII. ASCII is only 7 bits. Any 8-bit code is not ASCII, but that doesn't mean it's not standard. ISO-8859-8 is standard, but not ASCII. Thanks!
The Hebrew encoding starts at 128d for Aleph. Therefore, encoding requires 8 bits. This is what you have on the Video card EPROM hardware fonts, all of the Hebrew DOS based editors use this table (Qtext, HED, etc.).
The Hebrew encoding starts at 224 for Aleph. This is the Internet standard, international standard and basically the standard for Ms-Windows and for Macintoshes (Dagesh, etc...).
This is 7-bit, and obsolete, as it occupies essentially the same ASCII range as English lowercase letters. So, it is best avoided. However, when ISO Hebrew gets its eighth bit stripped off by some ignorant Unix mail program (so you get a jumble of English letters for the Hebrew part of your message and the regular English, reversed or not, mixed in), you will get this, and will need to transform it to PC or ISO. If there was English mixed in with the Hebrew, this will be a sad situation, as you will either get Hebrew plus jumble, or English plus jumble...
Here are some simple scripts to convert from each standard to the other:
NOTE: The numbers use by
Every distribution of Slackware comes with kbd; the package is called keytbls under Slackware (a4 in 2.3.0 - kbd 0.90). Joel Hoffman has contributed Hebrew fonts and keymaps from his original codepage.tar.Z file. Look under /usr/lib/kbd for iso08.* files. It follows ISO 8859-8 and the Hebrew keytables and maps.
Put the following lines in /etc/rc.d/rc.local:
NOTE: If you are using X Windows be careful with "setleds", it may hang the X server.
The above setup works fine with the Hebrew version of pico (pine) and displays correctly ISO 8859-8 Hebrew (X Windows, MS Windows).
XFree86 3.1 comes with two Hebrew fonts: heb6x13, heb8x13. Additional Hebrew fonts can be found on the Net:
In short you need to set the appropriate resource.
Put the following line in the $HOME/.Xresources:
or simply start xterm with
In general you can put any fonts insted of the webfonts files as long as its supported by X11 as described.
For some reason the X server doesn't inherit the keymap from the previous paragraph, and anyway I would like to define ALT Left and ALT Right and Scroll Lock. When pressing ALT together with some key it will generate a Hebrew character, Scroll Lock will lock in Hebrew mode.
To do that we need to use
To use the Xmodmap above define "Scroll-Lock Mode-Lock" in the XF86Config.
If you are using xdm a $HOME/.xsession should look like the following:
If you prefer
For more details read the ISO 8859-1 HOWTO.
Create a $HOME/.inputrc contain the following:
Define the following in the $HOME/.login or /etc/csh.login:
The pine and it's additional editor pico had been changed by Helen Zommer from CC-huji and has a bug-report mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. It can be down-loaded from ftp://horizon.cc.huji.ac.il/pub.
For a VC dosemu you can use your Hebrew from the Video card EPROM, and if you don't have it there are plenty of Hebrew dos fonts from EGA support to the VGA Hebrew support.
For X-Windows support you should download the file: ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/X11/fonts/hebxfonts-0.1.tgz it's contain some fonts include one called vgah.pcf that you should install it on your fonts directory as describe above the fonts are:
There is a main port of the regular X-Term program for use with a Hebrew
fonts - XHTerm = xterm + Hebrew support. The port for a sun machine was
made avalible by the help of Danny
<tt>email@example.com</tt>. Evgeny has some patch for use this port
under Linux. His version should come with a pre-compiled XHTerm for both
X11R5 and X11R6. You should use xhterm with the option
The bigest problem with Tex with Hebrew is that the charecters should go backwards relative to Visual look (i.e. pico inserts the charecters from right to left), so the best thing is to get XHterm with a regular emacs and write the Hebrew left to right, backwards as well.
The newer NTeX distribution on sunsite (v1.5) includes everything, including TeX--XeT, precompiled for Linux. It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu.gz/pub/Linux/apps/tex/ntex. An older version of TeX--XeT can be obtained from ftp://noa.huji.ac.il/tex. This older version, however, has to be recompiled (not recommended).
These TeX distributions are fine if you use LaTeX2.09. If you want to use LaTeX2e (the current de facto standard) you have a problem. Alon Ziv (firstname.lastname@example.org) is currently working in support for LaTeX2e with Hebrew, using the Babel languages system. I don't know the current status of his work -- ask him!
Mainly there is not to say, if you have a regular ASCII line printer
(who does, these days?) there is a good chance that there are Hebrew fonts
in it on the
If you use PostScript, you should download soft fonts to the printer (you can always use the earlier mentioned Web fonts for that. These fonts are also useable with Ghostscript).
If you have a PCL printer (LaserJet etc.), you can either use font cartridges or use Ghostscript.
The Hebrew Support for X-Windows & Motif, is a product of El-Mar Software, which adds Hebrew functionality to many of the parts and layers of X-Windows and Motif, including Xlib, all of the widgets of Motif, hterm (Hebrew xterm), demos and simple useful applications (e.g. bi-lingual Motif-based editor), fonts (including scalable Type1), keyboard-manager in order to allow Hebrew and push-mode for non-Motif applications, etc.
Despite allowing many new features and variations for Motif widgets, the support doesn't have any modification to internal data-structures of Motif, so existing applications which were compiled and linked under non-Hebrew environment and libraries, can be relinked (without compilation!) and run with Hebrew (you can replace shared-libraries, so even the relink is not needed!)
By using another tool of us, Motif/Xplorer, you can take commercial applications (without their source) and translate them to Hebrew. This was the way of giving Hebrew support for Oracle Forms 4, Intellicorp's Kappa and OMW, CA-Unicenter, and many other leading UNIX tools sold in Israel. This product was purchased and adopted by most of the workstation vendors (9 of them, including the biggest: Sun, HP, SGI), and many other software houses. There are Makefiles for more than 30 platforms and operating systems.
We believe only in open software, so all the customers get the compelete source code. We have good relations with the leading forces in this industry, including the technical staff of X-Consortium and the technical staff of COSE.
P.S.: The announcement of the Arabic Support for X-Windows & Motif, is expected in January. English, Hebrew, and Arabic will be handled by 8 bits (!), including the full set of Arabic glyphes.