Write Runes on Your Computer

Introduction

First of all, an explanation of why this is awesome. If you get one of those runic fonts, you can type runes, but only in a program that supports selecting fonts, like Word or Photoshop. So, it’s fine if you’re only going to print it out or make an image. However, each one of those fonts is different in how it maps the runes to our Roman letters and ultimately, the text itself is still just roman letters. So, if you type ᚦᚩᚱ, and copy that into another program or an e-mail, you’ll get something ghetto like Tor or tor, and not in runes (and even if it did work, it would require the other person have the same exact font as you). But with a keyboard, you can type runes in almost any program. More importantly, you can put it on the internet, and anyone with Code 2000 or any other font with unicode runes in it will be able to view it! There is perfect consistency – thorn is thorn, beorc is beorc, every time.

Font Installation

ᚹᛁᛚᚳᚢᛗᛖ ᛖᚪᛚᛚᛖ

If you don’t see the above (it’s just question marks or something), then you need to first get your computer to see runes! I recommend just getting – and it’s worth paying the shareware fee – Code 2000. If there are other alphabets that don’t show up on your computer, that will pretty much cover you. I know you’re all antsy about finally being able to read Mongolian script, right? hehe.

Here are some fine fonts for just the runes. They have other cool styles and are also good if you don’t want to install Code 2000 (it’s somewhat large for a font, understandably)

  • Hnias Runic Font
  • …that’s all I can find for now! Maybe I should make one? Maybe it’d be good to make one that does the lame roman-mapping thing but also has the characters in the unicode range, too. That would be handy.

If you’re new to installing fonts..

In Windows, copy the .ttf file to C:\Windows\Fonts (this could be C:\Winnt\Fonts, or a variety of other things, but trust me, if it’s different, you’d be the kind of person who would know where it is). That’s all. If you copy from the commandline or something, you might need to go to that folder and double click on the font once to install it properly.

In Mac OS X, just double-click on the .ttf (the one with a preview of the font for the icon), and hit the “install font” button. Isn’t Mac easy? Heh, most of the time…

In Linux, I hope that you’re using a new version of KDE or Gnome. For those, you can go into your control panel program and install fonts from there (may require root password). If not, to manually install, you have to.. this is such a pain.. you have to find the font paths in /etc/X11/xfs/config (or the equivalent on your system), after the catalog= line. Copy your font to one of those directories, cd to the directory and do ttmkfdir > fonts.scale; mkfontdir. I think you have to restart X, after that, too. I remember when I had to do this, but these days it should not be necessary.

Keyboard Installation

So now that we have that taken care of.. time to install the keyboard.

For Windows users, go here. Install the keyboard layout, then enable keyboard layout switching in your language preferences. I personally prefer to set <shift><space> to switch IMEs, whichever OS I’m in (I mostly use this for Japanese; the need to type runes just doesn’t come up as much, shucks)

I made equivalent keyboards to the Runic_AS (Futhorc) keyboard at the link above for x11 and Mac OS X, since I think that [futhorc] is most suitable for writing English, coming from its ancestor, Old English.

Mac OS X users.. download the keyboard layout here, then drop it in /Library/Keyboard Layouts. Restart the computer or log out and login again, then go to input in international settings and enable they keyboard “futhorc”. For more info, see the page for Ukulele, the app I used to generate this.

Linux/UNIX (x11/xorg) users, download the layout I made here. Save to /etc/X11/xkb/symbols/pc or wherever your machine keeps symbol maps for pc keyboards. Then add the keyboard to the list in /etc/X11/xkb/rules/xfree86.lst (or equivalent file.) In KDE or Gnome, you may have to add the keyboard to your available layouts and enable keyboard switching. If it doesn’t work (likely, this thing isn’t really standard across Unices…), you may have to tweak the contents of the keyboard layout itself.

One final note about putting these in web pages. If you aren’t able to use Unicode for some odd reason (sometimes, this is necessary with e-mail), then you can use my ajax app to convert the runes into html entities to paste into web pages. This, of course, works with anything that’s not in the standard ascii and works perfect for Asian characters. What’s really cute is the entities for Greek characters are just their names! (e.g., &Delta; for Δ).

http://thomasjwebb.com/conv2entities.php

20 thoughts on “Write Runes on Your Computer

  1. Oh gosh there is so many YEARS that I look for that.
    I will try to traduce it in french.
    And… ᛗᚪᚾᚣ, ᛗᚪᚾᚣ ᛏᚻᚪᚾᛣᛋ ᚠᚩᚱ ᛏᚻᚪᛏ, ᚣᚩᚢ ᚪᚱᛖ ᚪᛥᛖᛋᚩᛗᛖ᛫

    • Help please.
      I am running mac OSX v10.6.8 (snow leopard). I have installed Hnias to the User > Library > Fonts directory. And futhorc.keylayout is in Library > Keyboard Layouts directory. I can now type runes using futhorc keyboard. However, I do not appear to have the full set. Hnias claims to have 81 runic characters and I have only 36 :(
      Thanks in anticipation.

      • I based the keyboard on an existing Windows keyboard layout. It might not have all the possible runes Hnias has in it. If something isn’t found in futhorc (anglo-saxon runes), it probably won’t be in futhorc.keylayout. That’s just my guess as to why you’re seeing the discrepancy without looking at the files.

    • I only made keyboards for Old English runes personally, but there should be keyboards out there (for Windows anyway) for the elder Futhark. As for the fonts, it should have all the characters in both sets (at least code 2000, not sure about Hnias..) but the style might be more appropriate for Old English. You’ll have to double-check. I have been meaning to make some runic fonts myself, but I haven’t had time due to other projects.

      • Thanks for the reply. I was looking for an Younger Futhark actually, which proves to be rather difficult. I managed to find an Elder Futhark though.

  2. I am trying to install it on my computer but the font pack turns up as dots. I installed Yggdrasil font and it works fine in OpenOffice, but I can’t get the computer to use it as a keyboard layout. I’m using Linux Gnome. I think it’s Gnome 2.30.2 and it’s partitioned, with Linux being the main partition.
    Help!

    • I don’t use Gnome so it’s possible this never worked right in Gnome. It would be nice if stuff like this became a standard part of Linux distros. I mean, they even have wikipedias in extinct languages.

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