I’m running standard Ubuntu on my AMD64 right now (and by that, I mean regular Gnome Ubuntu and not the 64-bit version either) just as a troubleshooting measure. I want to untangle the SCIM/UIM stuff so the newfound Ubuntu users I helped last week don’t lose interest over keyboard difficulties.
Since I don’t usually work with the Japanese keysets (or when I do, it’s only for short, random words), it’s never been much of an issue for me. I have a machine with the full jp106 keyboard, but I never bothered installing either SCIM or UIM (by the way, it’s running Arch right now), since just having the right keymap was adequate. The extended character sets never come into play for me.
But I’m taking the time to figure it out, because a newcomer to Ubuntu shouldn’t feel disowned over a keyboard … and I am tech support for the transition.
Thus far it seems fairly straightforward. SCIM is available by default in Gutsy, I believe, and configuring it is self-explanatory. UIM has only come into play through this excellent howto, which suggests it over SCIM, or perhaps running concurrently.
With a non-Japanese keyboard there are options for triggering the shift between keysets. I’m using Control-plus-space, I believe, and the mora conversion (the two-letter switch between romaji phonetics and the proper hiragana/katakana character) is working fine. Kanji selection pops up when triggered too.
Which means the only remaining step is to put it into action, live, on a proper machine rather than a surrogate. I should get that chance some time in the next few days.