FieldWorks Installation Instructions

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These are instructions for installing and testing FieldWorks on Linux.


Note: When using FieldWorks in a team using both Linux and Windows, please keep in mind that newer versions of FieldWorks can use data (open a project or restore a backup) from an older version, but the reverse is not true. If you plan to use data from an existing FieldWorks installation (whether on Windows or a different Linux machine),

  • you can open it only if the data is from a version that is the same as or older than the Linux version you are using.
  • "
  • Often, version numbers that differ only in the third digit (e.g., 8.0.5 and 8.0.6) are considered "the same", if there has been no "model change". Watch for discussion of this on the main FieldWorks web page.
  • If you want to then open the data again in the other installation, both versions have to be the same.

Current versions of FieldWorks have been tested using Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty). It should also install and run on Wasta-Linux and Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise). It may also work on other distros and releases but these have not been tested and are currently not being supported.

Note that on Linux you do not download an installer but instead you enable a software source (aka package repository) as described below. The SIL software will then show up as additional packages in the list of available software for your system.

Please report bugs you find.

Preparing Your System

Install system updates

First install updates for your system.

Installing mscorefonts and flash behind a proxy

If you are behind a proxy and do not already have the ttf-mscorefonts-installer package or the flashplugin-installer package installed, follow these steps so that these packages will install correctly.

Installing FieldWorks

Add SIL package repository

Visit and follow the instructions for adding the SIL package repository to your list of software sources and setting up the key.

Install FieldWorks

Open the Dash from the upper left. Search for and launch Ubuntu Software Center.

In the upper right of Ubuntu Software Center, search for fieldworks. In the list of software, click the entry for fieldworks and click Install. If the installation seems to have stalled, move the Ubuntu Software Center window out of the way to see if there is an installation dialog waiting for input.

Optionally enable beta versions

If you want to use beta versions of new SIL software, you will need to enable an additional software source (repository). Go back to Software Sources and make an additional entry for, but this time append -experimental to the end of the distro name, with no space between. For example, if you are using Ubuntu 14.04, the lines you need for both the main and experimental (beta testing) repositories are:

deb trusty main

deb trusty-experimental main

For a more detailed explanation of repositories and options for getting software, visit Setting up Linux Repositories to download SIL Software.

Using FieldWorks

Optionally download and install sample data

Sample data has been provided for testing. Sometimes it is helpful to check that the software works with this sample data before importing your own data as this will make it much easier to diagnose any installation problems.

To download a sample project, do the following.

  1. Go to
  2. In the Download area, click the link for the latest release.
  3. Scroll down and click the link for Sample Projects and follow the instructions.

Run the application

Open the Dash from the upper left. Search for and launch FieldWorks Language Explorer.

If you have not run FLEx before, you will get a welcome dialog with several options.

To open one of the sample projects or the backup of another existing project, do the following at the welcome dialog.

  1. Click Restore a Project.
  2. Click Another location for the Backup location.
  3. Navigate to where you downloaded these backup files, and click the filename that begins with Sena 3 or Sena 2 (or whatever project the backup is from). Click Open.
FLEx should now open with the data you selected. The next time you run the application it will open with the last project that you edited.


If you want to use Send/Receive for collaboration with other teammates, there are several ways to access this capability.

  • On the Welcome dialog, there is an option to Get project from a colleague. Use this if you are starting to work on a project that someone else has already set up for Send/Receive. Be sure you don't have any copy of the project on your machine.
  • There is a new menu called Send/Receive. It also has an option to Get Project from colleague.
  • On that menu is another option to Send this Project for the first time. This is the option to use if you have a project that no one has used with Send/Receive yet, and you are the first one to share it. (If you are sharing with a WeSay project, use Send this Lexicon for the first time.)

Please see the Helps in FieldWorks for more information about using Send/Receive.

Online Help

FieldWorks has context sensitive Help, student manuals and Demo movies. Please see Using FieldWorks Help for notes about using these various helps in FieldWorks.

Keyboarding in FieldWorks

Keyboarding for FieldWorks uses XKB system keyboards and IBus. IBus comes with many language keyboard options already available.

A KMFL package for IBus is available from If you need help with installing and using KMFL, please see Installing KMFL on Ubuntu.

There are now packages available for a KMFL IPA keyboard and KMFL Indic keyboards at Installing these packages will put all the files in the proper places. Then you can continue to follow the instructions for adding these keyboards into IBus.

Getting rid of old configurations

If you have used older stable or beta versions of FieldWorks, it may be necessary to get rid of some configuration files before the current version will run correctly. So if you have followed all the preceding directions, downloaded and installed the current version and tried to run Language Explorer, you may get an error when opening the sample projects or your own projects. If this happens to you, see Previous FieldWorks Alphas to correct this error.

Getting Help and Reporting Bugs

There is a discussion group for FLEx. That community is very good at answering questions, helping you figure out if what you are seeing is a bug, or helping you learn new ways of doing things in FLEx.

There is also a discussion group just for FLEx on Linux. You can ask questions that are specific to the Linux version there, and hear updates about future plans.

A list of Linux FieldWorks Known Issues is occasionally revised.

If you've found a bug in FieldWorks, please email