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SearchEnterpriseLinux.com: Can Linux conquer the OS tower of Babel? Linux internationalization

Jan 27, 2001, 16:01 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rick Cook)

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"Ultimately we'd like there to be no differences between the English, Japanese, Chinese and other language versions for the OS," says Craig Oda, vice-president of alliances and product marketing, at TurboLinux Inc., a San Francisco, CA-based Linux distributor whose version is widely used in Asia. "This is easier said than done by a good bit."

"Globalization of businesses is fueling the need and desire for an international Linux. It's not unusual today for company with headquarters in America to have a subsidiary in Japan and a couple of offices in Taiwan, and a system administrator who manages the entire system remotely. "If Linux supported internationalization, it would be easier to roll out on a global scale," says Oda."

"The basic idea of internationalization (known as i18n among the initiates) is simple. Write software so it can be used equally well in any language. The details in realizing this idea can be mind-bendingly complex. Even countries that use the same alphabet, for example, have significant differences in everything from the date format to the delimiter used for thousands in large numbers. ... No one can work productively in a Tower of Babel. That's why an international OS has to be multilingual."

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