Configure Balsa programs and applications

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Programs included with Balsa

Balsa comes pre-installed with software for working on a language project. Most of the programs have their own websites with instructions for use; here are some links and other helps.

Note to IT personnel --If you are a regional IT consultant, and you are preparing SD cards for more than one Balsa user, you may create a card, then run it and customize certain programs on a regional basis. Then you can rsync your customized card to a folder and from there copy multiple cards for distribution.

  • For KMFL, you might install a regional Keyman keyboard.
  • In BibleTime you might pre-install certain Bible resources (see below).

KMFL: Set up Balsa to use a Keyman keyboard

KMFL is pre-installed in Balsa. To activate it for Balsa user follow these steps:

1. Copy your keyboard into Balsa

  • Log into Balsa user. Open Places—Home Folder. Or open Documents on the Work tab; in the left-hand pane click "balsa" at the top.
  • If you can not see numerous folders with names starting with "." (period/fullstop), from the View menu select Show Hidden Files.
  • Copy your (uncompiled) .kmn file to ~/.kmfl and its icon file to ~/.kmfl/icons.

2. Activate iBus

  • On the Settings tab open Language Support. If you see a message, "The language support is not installed completely," click Remind me later.
  • Check to be sure the Keyboard Input Method System is set to ibus. Close this window.
  • Now log out and back in again to Balsa user.

3. Configure iBus to display your keyboard

  • Open iBus Preferences from the Settings tab.
  • On the Input Methods tab, click Select an Input Method. Find the keyboard you wish to make available and click Add. If your kmfl keyboard has a "store(&language)" line in the header section, then the keyboard will fall under that language in the ibus keyboard list; otherwise you will find it at the end of the keyboard list under "Other."
  • Experiment with the settings on the General tab. Enable the Language panel, You may also enable an icon in the panel system tray, but a bug in the Lucid version of iBus makes it unreliable to turn on the keyboard from the system tray icon. To turn on your keyboard left-click on the language panel and select it.
  • Due to another bug in the Lucid version of iBus, it is impossible to make your keyboard "apply system-wide," so you have to keep turning it back on in different applications. These problems will be fixed in the next version of Balsa.
   **The keyboard list only appears when the active window allows text input (email, text editor, etc)! If this is not the case you will not see your keyboard when you click on the iBus icon. 

4. Enable your keyboard in a text application

To test your keyboard, close the iBus Preferences window; open a new file for editing (OpenOffice Word Processor on Work tab). Left-click on either the system tray keyboard icon or the Language bar icon. Select your keyboard and start typing. The Language bar may be dragged around the screen using the little handle at the left. This should work in any application that allows text entry.

[edit] Uninstall a keyboard

   For a user-specific keyboard delete the (.kmn) file from the user's home folder: ~/.kmfl, and the (.bmp) file from ~/.kmfl/icons. 

See Installing_KMFL_on_Ubuntu#KMFL_on_Ubuntu_10.04_Lucid_and_later_versions_.28with_iBus.29 KMFL with Lucid or later

Bibledit: Set up a translation project

See Bibledit tutorial: Project. In addition, a good Help menu system is included with the program. A sample Bibledit project is included with Balsa, which you will find in Balsa User's home directory.

WeSay: Set up a dictionary

Log in as Balsa User. Open WeSay-config (on Work or Settings tab). WeSay-config is fairly self-explanatory about setting up a new dictionary project. For more help see WeSay's website. If you would like to import dictionary material from Flex or Toolbox, start here.

Adapt It

The Adapt It program is used for adapting a Bible translation in one language into another closely-related language. When Adapt It is used correctly, the computer can assist with producing a rough draft in the second language. Adapt It includes a very good Help system; open the program and click on Help in the menu line.


BibleTime resources must be in SWORD format. To install a Scripture resource into BibleTime you need an internet connection, or you may order a cd with many free Bible resources from the Crosswire Bible Society. See

To install Bible resources from Crosswire's online repository into Balsa,

  • Log in as Balsa User (resources are installed in each user's Home folder). Start BibleTime from the Work tab.
  • From the BibleTime Settings menu select Bookshelf Manager. You should see a CrossWire Bible Society tab, with a Refresh button. Click Refresh.
  • Select one or more resources to install from the expandable list. If you hover over a resource name, a popup will give more information. Click install, then close the Bookshelf Manager window.

The installed resources will appear in a collapsible folder pane on the left of the BibleTime window. You may double-click on a resource to open a window, and you may resize or rearrange windows. Use the Help menu for more information about using BibleTime.

For English speakers suggested resources are:

  • NETfree- Free version of New English Translation with limited notes (you can pay $15 for a version with full notes)
  • ESV- English Standard Version
  • Commentary: Netnotesfree- Free version of NET Bible Footnotes with limited notes

Other tasks and applications in Balsa

Setting the System Time

You can change the time zone, time and date in the Advisor account. Choose the Applications => System => Time and Date menu item. Click on the shield icon beside the Help button to make changes.

Advisors: Show or Hide programs for the Balsa User

See Customizing Balsa User's Desktop

Printing with Balsa

See Printing with Balsa


Thunderbird is installed for email capability.


Several games are included in Balsa. Games can help computers improve keyboard and mouse dexterity, but the Advisor may disable some or all games for the Balsa User if desired.


TuxType has configurable data and lesson files, so Advisors may add custom word lists, edit existing typing lessons or write language-specific lessons. [ToDo:instructions for this].

Translators Workplace

It is possible to configure Translators Workplace to work under Wine. See Translator's Workplace in Wine.

Note: This has not been tried yet in Balsa itself; nor in Ubuntu Jaunty. It should work well in the newer Lucid Balsa.

Linguist's Toolbox

Linguist's Toolbox is included in the Balsa distribution as a zip file. It's in the advisor's home directory at /home/advisor/AdditionalSoftware/Toolbox/ See Linguist's Toolbox in Wine.

Setting Balsa User and Advisor Password

Warning #1! Changing some of the settings in the User Accounts can make your Balsa system unusable. Don't change anything other than the password in the User Accounts settings! (Unless you know what you are doing and have a good reason for doing it.)

Warning #2! If you change the password and forget or lose your new password, you won't be able to use your Balsa system!

  1. In the Advisor account, run the System Settings program. Press the windows key and enter "System Settings" in the search bar. You'll see the following program:
  2. Under the System section, click on User Accounts. You'll see this screen:
  3. Click on the Unlock button and enter the Advisor's password when prompted.
  4. Click on the Account that you want to change the password for.
  5. When you move your mouse over the hidden password, it will change into a button. Click the button.
  6. A box will appear asking for the new password. If it's the Advisor account you also have to type in the current password.
  7. Type the new password twice, once in the User password box and once in the Confirmation Box.
  8. Click the Change button
  9. Close the User Accounts Box.

Tips & Tricks

Instructions on controlling the Tips & Tricks are here.

Re-initializing the Balsa Machine

If it becomes necessary to re-initialize a Balsa machine, this can't be done once you are logged into the machine. You can do it the following way:

  1. Backup all the files that you want to keep from the Balsa advisor's and user's accounts.
  2. Shut down the Balsa using the Restart option.
  3. When the Balsa Login comes up, type <Ctrl-ALT> F1. A text login labelled OLPC login will appear at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Type advisor. It will ask for the advisor password
  5. Type the advisor password. The screen prompt will be similar to the prompt from the terminal program.
  6. Type following commands:
cd /
sudo umount /home
sudo rm -rf /media/nand/balsafiles
sudo reboot

When balsa reboots, the Balsa advisor and user accounts will be re-initialized. You can restore the data you need from the backups you made at the beginning of this procedure.

Links and Notes

For more information about configuring the Balsa desktop, see Install and use Balsa.