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 12.04 (Precise), which is the current LTS. It should also install and run on the current supported Ubuntu versions. 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 software will then show up as an additional package in the list of available software on your system.

Please check the list of known issues for each release, report any new bugs you find, and subscribe to our blog (using RSS).

Preparing Your System

Install all Updates

Before you begin testing or using FieldWorks on Linux, you will need to install all updates for your system. Instructions for doing this can be found here.

Enable Universe and Multiverse repositories

Start Ubuntu Software Center and go to Edit, Software Sources ( or in Synaptic and go to Settings > Respositories) and check to see that the Community-maintained Open Source software (universe) is checked, and also the Software restricted by copyright or legal issues (multiverse). If you have to check either of these, then click Reload.

Prepare to install MSCoreFonts and FlashPlugin

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

Installing FieldWorks

Add SIL Package Repositories

(For a more detailed explanation of repositories and options for getting software, feel free to visit the page Setting up Linux Repositories to download SIL Software. However, the instructions below should work for either Synaptic or Ubuntu Software Center.)

Using your browser of choice, go to:

and follow the instructions there for adding the SIL package repository to your list of software sources and setting up the key. Make sure that you can now see in the Origin tab on the left-hand side of the Synaptic Package Manager, or "LSDev" under "All Software" in Ubuntu Software Center.

If you wish to have access to beta versions of new releases, you will need to enable an additional software source (repository). Go back to Software Sources and make an additional entry for, but this time change the distro name to add -experimental to the end of the name, with no space before it. For instance, if you are using Ubuntu 12.04, the lines you need for both the main and experimental repos are:

deb precise main

deb precise-experimental main

Close the window and click the reload button.

Select packages

You should now see a long list of packages. In Ubuntu Software Center, go to All Software, LSDEV, or in Synaptic, click on "Origin" on the left, and then choose precise/main ( You should see:

  • fieldworks
  • fieldworks-applications
  • fieldworks-gtk-sharp2
  • fieldworks-libgdiplus
  • fieldworks-mono
  • fieldworks-mono-basic
  • fieldworks-movies

In main, selecting fieldworks for installation will automatically select all of the packages in this list, including the movies package, which is large.

In experimental, the fieldworks package is no longer used. You can select the movies package independently, and you can download the example projects from

Selecting fieldworks-applications for installation will automatically select fieldworks-gtk-sharp2, fieldworks-libgdiplus, fieldworks-mono and fieldworks-mono-basic, and any other needed dependencies.

Proceed with the installation in the normal way.

Note: If you are upgrading from a previous version you may have some setup or starting difficulties, or get an error similar to this:

trying to overwrite '…', which is also in package fieldworks 7.0.0~alpha7

If this happens, remove the existing fieldworks package before installing the new one.

For proper testing of the Beta packages, it would be useful to remove all previous information so you start out fresh. Be sure to first back up any data you are using for testing. Uninstall previous versions of FieldWorks and see Previous FieldWorks Alphas for how to manually remove configuration information.

Package to enable Send/Receive

If you are collaborating with teammates on a single project, FieldWorks' Send/Receive capability will help you share data via a thumb drive, the Internet, or a local network. To enable this capability, you need the package flexbridge. However, this package is currently installed by default, so you should not need to do anything special to get it.

Using FieldWorks

Download and install Sample Data

For testing purposes, some sample data has been provided. 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 and open a sample project:

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

Run the application

To run Language Explorer (FLEx), do the following:

  1. For current Ubuntu versions, use the Dash and type in FieldWorks. Click on the icon for FieldWorks Language Explorer.
  2. If you have not run FLEx before, you will get a welcome dialog that will allow you several options. To open one of the sample projects or the backup of another existing project, click Restore a Project.
  3. Click on Another location for the Backup location.
  4. Then 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). Then 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, once you have the flexbridge package installed.

  1. 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.
  2. There is a new menu called Send/Receive. It also has an option to Get Project from colleague.
  3. 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 can now use either XKB (system keyboards) or IBus, which is what is used in Ubuntu 9.10 and Ubuntu 10.04. SCIM will not work for FieldWorks. IBus comes with many language keyboard options already available.

A KMFL package for IBus is available from for Ubuntu versions. 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 previous FieldWorks packages, even previous betas, 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 either Translation Editor or 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.

Known issues are listed for the latest stable and experimental releases.

However, if you've found what looks like a bug, please send email to It will be passed on to the Linux FW dev team.

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