Should default keyboard be based on location?

Yannick Gingras ygingras at
Thu May 29 04:39:04 UTC 2008

Colin Watson <cjwatson at> writes:

>> That is indeed a more of a problem in Québec since it's impossible to
>> type French with the US layout.
> I'm curious; won't the majority of people needing this (particularly
> those whose names require it) select French as their installation
> language? I appreciate that you didn't, but it does seem like a good
> heuristic.

There are several good reasons to install your distribution in English
but as soon as you need to write any French, the US layout is

Native french speakers are fairly good in English around here: we are
so exposed to English, there is no way around it.  I install in
English because I like English: it's a nice efficient language with a
lot of quirky shortcuts and visceral expressiveness.  Others do it
because translations are really not that good: you see applications
with half of the menus in French and half in English; you get error
messages like "une erreur fatale s'est produite: no space left on
device"; various technical terms are translated differently by
different people, like the ubiquitous "email" that people in France
translate to "MEL" and that people in Québec translate to "courriel".
Also, it's much easier to get support if your applications are
spitting out error messages in English: you can google the messages
and you have a much higher probability of hitting a forum somewhere.

In other words, the French version of Ubuntu kind of sucks.  I know
installing your environment in a secondary language can feel strange
to a native English speaker; he would probably see no logical reason
to suddenly decide to work in, say, Polish.  However, the language you
end up using really has not much to do with the order in which you
learned languages, or the subset of Unicode required to write your
name: we end up using what is most efficient.

Now you might wonder why we so desperately want to be able to write
French.  That's another story but let's just say that different
subjects call for different languages.

> And, after all, it's only a default.

Don't get me wrong.  The situation is not a show stopper, I was just
wondering if we could make the already extremely intuitive installer
even better.

Sincères salutations, 

Yannick Gingras

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