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Freshmeat: Linux Internationalization Problems

Oct 22, 2000, 21:01 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Juraj Bednar)

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"Linux continues its march to the desktop, strengthened by the arrival of Open Office and other non-hacker applications, but what good are these apps to you if they don't speak your language? In today's editorial, Juraj Bednar asks that the community not forget localization if it wants Linux to be an alternative for the non-English-speaking world."

"In this article, I would like to explain the basic issues with Central European languages and how to avoid making mistakes. The first step in making Linux "your-language-friendly" is to create a locale for your language. A locale is a set of definitions of how to represent and process various data types like time, date, monetary symbols, special characters, and so on. One of the important parts of a locale is the so-called message translation definition, a set of files which define how certain messages are translated to that particular language. There's usually one such file for an application, a hash table which contains all the application's messages, so it's generally the translation of the program's user interface."

"The problem is not related to including these locales in certain distributions (they're part of glibc, and it's quite easy to add to glibc if you want to). The problem is with setting the locale parameters for each user. This is what almost no distribution considers when setting up users. There should not be a system-wide default, because Linux is a multiuser environment. Each user should be able to set his own language variables. If he wants to do it now, he has to edit his .bashrc or similar file to have the proper values set. This is not very user-friendly."

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