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Monday, March 16, 2009

Dictionary access under Linux

How to use this dictionary service in a number of ways:
  • If you always work while connected to the Internet:
    • you can use the command-line interface program "dict", which doesn't require much in the way of local resources, and that by default relies on readily available Internet servers that support its protocol.
    • You can also use the KDE application "kdict," a modern, X windows GUI application that relies on "dict" behind the scenes.
    • You can use my PHP script that basically does what "kdict" does, but has some advantages if you tend to have a browser running while you work, or if you are not running the KDE desktop environment.
  • If you want to make "dict" work for you on an intranet, or on a personal system not connected to the Internet:
    • You can download the dictionary database files from (example), set them up on your local system or intranet server, enable a local "dictd" dictionary server, then access the service from your local network using the above-described clients.
So it seems this task is logically divided into two parts — server and client. As to the server, most recent Linux distributions have the "dictd" server available (Fedora 4 does). In this case it is a simple matter of downloading and installing the databases, editing a couple of configuration files, and starting the server. As to the client, you have the choice of using the CLI program "dict", or you can use "Kdict" if you prefer a GUI application. I also have written a PHP page that accesses "dict" and presents its results on a Web browser.
Here are the details

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