Language chooser at login

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at
Mon Jul 4 10:11:45 UTC 2011

Hash: SHA1

Robert Ancell wrote on 04/07/11 03:44:
>> If you change the display language within a session, it does not take
>> effect in that session, but only after you have logged out and
>> logged in again. The language setting is one of the few things that
>> works that way.
> Yes, it's an unfortunate limitation of the system we use.

So far, this discussion seems to be assuming that that limitation is
unfixable. Windows has the same limitation, but Mac OS X (except for the
Finder) does not, and many multilingual Web sites do not either.

So, what would it take to remove that limitation in Ubuntu? What would
it take to switch languages on the fly?

Oliver Grawert wrote on 04/07/11 08:41:
> Am Montag, den 04.07.2011, 12:44 +1000 schrieb Robert Ancell:
>> I haven't heard of any standard user requirements to switch between 
>> more than two languages, or two languages that do not include English
>> (please post here if you know of any).
> well, just some of these environments ubuntu has traditionally been
> big in ... :)
> ... pretty much every environment edubuntu is used in (public desktops
> in school classrooms at universities or libraries), non personalized
> computers in multilingual companies, public computers at airports,
> hotels, internet cafes etc

As I understand it, those environments use either a guest session, or a
single non-admin user account with no password.

GDM in Ubuntu does not let you choose the language when logging in to a
guest session. <>

Nor does it let you choose the language when logging in to an account
with no password. <>

So if those are the use cases, then GDM's language selection is
perfectly useless: it lets you choose a language only when you don't
need to.

>> There are disadvantages to keeping this feature:
>> - This feature is quite complex to support.
>> - By having this feature both in the login screen and in the control
>> center we are duplicating functionality but providing an inconsistent
>> method of configuring it.
> why not drop it from the control center then ? keep the configuration
> at the login screen and move langpack installation into software
> center where it belongs ?

Even if it was true that language pack installation "belongs" in USC
(which it isn't), that would be irrelevant. Imagine a computer on which
every language pack is installed. People would still need to switch from
one language to another.

>> - Users can accidentally change it, giving an opportunity to make
>> their session unusable. 
> many users in the above listed environments wont be multilingual, how
> would such a user be supposed to find out how to change the language
> somewhere in the control center if he/she cant even read the text on
> desktop elements ? such users would be provided with an unusable
> session by default.

That is a good point, but for the reasons mentioned above, they have
that problem right now anyway. Putting System Settings in the launcher
by default will help. Using a large icon layout (like System Settings
does) instead of a menu with tiny icons (like the old Preferences menu)
will help too. That reduces the problem to learning, or guessing, two
large icons.

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