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Converting Babylon Dictionaries to Stardict Format in OpenSuse

June 14th, 2008 by

This blog does not add any information to the documentation you can find around. Anyway, it is not too long since someone was able to make Babylon dictionaries usable by software other than the proprietary Babylon application. And they have been trying for years… so it has not been a trivial step 🙂

If you do not know Stardict, you can get it from Yast. This is the official site.

A few dictionaries are also linked – ready and free to use – at Stardict website. However, I used Babylon when I was a Windows user and i have to admit that their dictionaries remain unbeaten. Matters not what language you want, mono-language or bi-language, technical, general purpose etc etc… they just rock!

You can get tons of dictionaries for free from Babylon website:

Now, go to Yast Software Manager and search for dictconv. Alternatively, you can install from source (which is what I personally did).

Installing is very easy: ./configure and then make all install

Now you’re all set. To use it to convert:

cd to the directory where you have the .BGL dictionaries and type: dictconv INPUT_FILENAME.BGL -o OUTPUT_FILENAME.ifo

Pay attention to the extension: must be .ifo. This will generate 3 files for each BGL dictionary: .ifo, .idx, .dict

Place all these 3 files in /usr/share/stardict/dic/ creating a separate folder for each dictionary. Then rebook Stardict and go to Manage Dictionary (bottom right): there you can select what comes first, activate or deactivate etc etc

Nothing difficult but def worth, and not only for non native speakers.. there are lots of technical terminology Babylon dictionaries that may well come handy.

Notice that with Stardict you can also implement Pronunciations of the typed words: see Stardict site: “WyabdcRealPeopleTTS package make StarDict pronounce English words. It is just many .wav files. Extract(tar -xjvf) the tarball at /usr/share/”.

Sooo well… Have fun ~ Buon divertimento ~ Viel Spaß ~ I que te diviertas ~ Maak plezier ~ ha så roligt [hmm i’m just hoping the dictionaries mentioned just above are not making me do some poor figure for these few transations of “Have Fun”.. cuz i have no idea for any language except Italian :D]

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8 Responses to “Converting Babylon Dictionaries to Stardict Format in OpenSuse”

  1. Eric

    I just converted the babylon dictionary .bgl to .ifo. there are three files just like you said. .dict, .idx, .ifo. I copied them to /usr/share/stardict/dic/ and created a folder for them. but I can not find it in the stardict. I found the other dictionaries which are from the stardict contain a file .dz. why I do not have that file after converting?

  2. Hi Eric,
    it is correct that you do NOT have a .dz file. You are supposed to have exactly what you said, that is a .dict, .idx, .ifo. The .dict will do the same that the .dz does
    Create a folder for *each* dictionary. Restart Stardict, go to “manage dictionaries” (bottom right, the button with the “i”) and you should see them there. For me it worked perfectly on all of my machines, i have Stardict 2.4.8 on opensuse 11

  3. Michiel Vanhauwaert

    I’m a Windows user, apparently this tutorial is for Linux. Is there a similar way to convert babylon dictionaries to these .ifo files useful in StarDict? I downloaded Stardict and dictconvert, but then I’m stuck. Can you help me? Thanks a lot. Michiel

  4. hi Michiel, yes the tutorial above is for Linux only, pretty much everything you can find on this website applies to Linux only because this is Opensuse website and Opensuse is a Linux distro.
    I have no idea how to do that in Windows as i barely ever use windows systems, anyway i think your best bet is googling it, or use babylon directly, since you are in windows you can do that, the rationale behind this tutorial is that there is no babylon software for linux

  5. Luca Severini

    Ciao Rossana,

    Vorrei utilizzare i dizionari Babylon (che sono i migliori come hai anche detto tu) che uso su Windows con l’applicazione Dictionary su Leopard (MacOS 10.5).
    Essendo un programmatore su piattaforma Apple (e Windows ma non Linux… I’m sorry) ho scaricato i sorgenti e li ho compilati applicando alcune semplici correzioni al makefile per risovere alcuni problemi di link con libiconv.
    Il programma si compila e si installa correttamente ma quando provo a eseguire la conversione dei dizionari l’applicazione va in Segmentation Fault.
    Prima di imbarcarmi nel debug del codice volevo sapere se, per caso, avevi qualche idea su cosa non funzioni compilando su Mac che come probabilmente sai e’ uno stretto derivato di Unix (BSD). Magari qualcuno che lo ha gia fatto sul Mac te lo ha detto e poi chiedere non costa nulla… almeno spero 😉
    Ti ringrazio e scusa per il disturbo.

    Un saluto dalla Silicon Valley.


  6. Hello Luca,
    i reply in English just in case this might be useful to someone else 🙂

    It is virtually impossible to say what is not working on a Mac. I do not have any Macs so i cannot test. It could be one million different things. Mac is derived from Unix sure, but in general applications and source codes cannot be swapped between them as there are many inherent difference in the OS structure, libraries, etc. One application designed for Mac is not generally portable on a Linux, and vice versa. There might be some exception of source code that is platform independent such as Java but i think this application is not one of those.

    I would suggest two things:
    1) you can install the dictionary converter on any linux system, if you do not have you could ask a friend to do so for you, then convert the dictionaries and bring to your computer only the converted dictionaries. That’s what you need, you actually do not need the converter itself on your computer.
    2) if you really cannot find anyone around you, willing to help and running a linux, you could at least use a debugger to locate the cause of the segmentation fault, otherwise without a debugger i guess it is a real hell.

    How many dictionaries do you need to convert? If they are not too many i could do it for you, and upload somewhere or email to you the converted dictionaries

    Let me know, if i can help i will be glad to


    • Luca Severini

      Hi Rossana,

      I should thought that someone else, who doesn’t know the italian language, may read my message. I’m sorry.
      My idea is that the problem may lie in the size of some structures and declarations that I changed in order to make the source compilable. By the way, if the C/C++ code is well written, to port a XWindow o CLI application from Linux to Mac isn’t too difficult for a software engineer.
      I asked to you because, at the moment, I don’t know directly any linux user around here (but I can’t say I made a thorough search…). To ask seemed to me the simpler and faster thing to do before to spend time to debug something I’m going to use only one or two times. I’m assure you I’m not a lazy guy; I just hoped you already had a solution.
      However because you are kindly offering your help, if you really have time and will, I gladly accept it. After all we are both Italians in a foreign country… 😉
      If would be possible to translate for me the Italian->English, English->Italian, Italian->German and German->Italian Babylon dictionares, that would be great!! My email is lucaseverini@mac.com .
      And of course… “a buon rendere…”

      Ciao and have a nice weekend.


  7. Just what I was looking for!, dictconv works great on kubuntu hardy
    thx thx thxthxthx 😀