FieldWorks Installation Instructions

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These are instructions for installing and testing FieldWorks on Linux.

Warning: If you choose to use the software you need to understand that it probably will crash from time to time, maybe even frequently, and that there are no guarantees it won’t scramble your data. Also, we'd like you to commit to working with us by providing full information about what you find and by trying out any fixes or workarounds that we might ask you to check for us.

For further background information on this release, please read the announcement in the blog.


This version of FieldWorks has been tested using Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick), Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid) and Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic). It may also work for other distros but has not been tested for these. Also see the section on Keyboarding in FieldWorks below.

We urge you to run FieldWorks with Compiz turned on and set to normal. This gives much better screen performance when using FieldWorks. Unfortunately if you are running Linux in a Virtual environment you may not be able to turn Compiz on. To check your settings, choose System > Preferences > Appearance. Click the Visual Effects tab. Click Normal. FieldWorks will run without Compiz for those who can not get Compiz turned on for some reason, but expect your screen performance to deteriorate as a result.

Install all Updates

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

Preparing to install MSCoreFonts

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

Karmic only, installing other fonts

There are a couple of other fonts that need to be installed on Karmic for the installation of FieldWorks to go smoothly and successfully complete. You can find these instructions here.

Installing FieldWorks

Using your browser of choice, go to:

and follow the instructions there for adding the SIL package repository to your list of software sources. Make sure that you can now see in the Origin tab on the left-hand side of the Synaptic Package Manager.

Go back to Software Sources and make an additional entry for, but this time when changing the distro name add -experimental to the end of the name. For example, if you are currently using lucid main use lucid-experimental main. (You don't need to add the key again.) Close the window and click the reload button.

You should now see the following packages under in Synaptic's Origin view:

  • fieldworks
  • fieldworks-applications
  • fieldworks-examples
  • fieldworks-libgdiplus
  • fieldworks-mono
  • fieldworks-movies

Selecting fieldworks for installation should automatically select all of the packages in this list.

Selecting fieldworks-applications for installation should automatically select fieldworks-libgdiplus and fieldworks-mono, and any other needed dependencies. You can also add the sample data by selecting fieldworks-examples.

Proceed with the installation in the normal way.

Using Sample Data with FieldWorks

For testing purposes, some sample data has been provided. Please use this sample data for Alpha testing. Importing your own data is not encouraged during Alpha testing, but it is possible. Please remember that during Alpha testing it is possible the data may become corrupted. To use the sample data, follow the instructions at FieldWorks Sample Data

Run FieldWorks

To run either Translation Editor (TE) or Language Explorer (Flex), do the following:

  1. Choose Applications > Education > FieldWorks Translation Editor or FieldWorks Language Explorer.
  2. On the dialog, click Open an existing Project.
  3. Click Open project in another location.
  4. Navigate to your home folder (Personal) and click the Sena 3 or Sena 2 folder, then click Open.
  5. Now click on Sena 3.fwdata file or the Sena 2.fwdata file and click Open.

TE or Flex should now open with the data you selected. The next time you run the application it will open with this same data.

You may get a warning about the Global Writing Systems Changed, just click yes.

FieldWorks 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 is designed to use IBus, which is what is used in Ubuntu 9.10 and Ubuntu 10.04. Scim will not work for FieldWorks. A KMFL package for IBus is available from for Ubuntu Lucid. IBus comes with many language keyboard options already available. If you need help with installing and using KMFL, please see Installing KMFL on Ubuntu.

Getting rid of previous alpha configurations

If you have previously used the alpha3, alpha4, alpha5, alpha6 or alpha7 FieldWorks packages, it may be necessary to get rid of some configuration files before alpha8 will run correctly. So once you have followed the above directions, downloaded and installed the alpha8 package and tried to run either Translation Editor or Language Explorer, you may get an error when opening the sample projects. If this happens to you see Previous FieldWorks Alphas to correct this error.

Reporting Bugs

To report bugs, please use our Bugzilla database.

  1. If not already registered, click the New Account button at the top of the main page.
  2. If not already logged in, log in using the link and fields at the top of the page.
  3. Check whether an identical or similar bug has been reported, by doing one of the following:
    • Click FieldWorks at the bottom of the page to browse all outstanding bugs.
    • Click Search, select FieldWorks from the Product drop-down and enter some words to search for.
  4. Submit your information, by doing one of the following:
    • Add a comment to an existing bug, if appropriate:
      1. Type some text into the Additional Comments box
      2. Click Commit
    • File a new bug:
      1. Click New at the top of the page.
      2. Click FieldWorks.
      3. Fill out as much information as you can and click Commit.

Please note that the email address that you register with will be displayed on the web site and therefore will be publicly visible.