Fwd: Considerations about official localized editions of Live CDs

Aron Xu happyaron.xu at gmail.com
Fri Dec 18 01:09:25 UTC 2009

I've known that sending it directly to ubuntu-devel is unsuitable, so
forward here, and previous discussions can be found at
ubuntu-translators and loco-contact mailing list.

Aron Xu

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From:  <happyaron.xu at gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM
Subject: Considerations about official localized editions of Live CDs
To: ubuntu-devel at lists.ubuntu.com
Cc: ubuntu-translators at lists.ubuntu.com, loco-contacts at lists.ubuntu.com

Hi everyone,

It is a proven fact that Ubuntu, the Linux for Human Beings, is a
great GNU/Linux distribution, which enables more and more people all
over the world enjoy free software, share their knowledge and joys.

Being an user of Ubuntu, I must say all the work done by the community
and Canonical is awesome; but as a contributor from a not English
spoken country, I would be extremely happy to see we can launch
localized edition Live CDs, in other words language specific edition
Live CDs for users that have different languages and preferences.

For different languages there always be different cultures, and this
caused to different user preferences. There are many people don't have
enough knowledge about English to use a not localized computer in this
world. A user of this kind will find it essential to download and
install many thing to complete their language support when they
installed Ubuntu from our Live CD in the past and at present. Most of
these users have some common usage of software, so install these
"language preferred" software is another required task before the
system is usable. Do you think such a thing is very annoying? Yes,
users would be much happier when they find an operating system
designed to be very considerate.

We have spent lots of man power on improving the process of
installation including language support, and a GNU/Linux distribution
always ships not only a system but also a set of selected
applications, but I think things are still not perfect for us.
Microsoft and Apple make their operating systems have different
language's editions, and as a non-native English speaker, I 'd like to
say it worth. Users prefer to have a fully localized environment in
every corner they can see from the very beginning. But for Ubuntu we
can only add translations of software that used during installation.
The live session is an exciting feature, but I always here somebody
ask "why are those all in English?""is there a fully translated Ubuntu
available?" I've explained our current situation times by times, and
these people always return to say "Ubuntu  is great, but if there is a
fully translated one, things will be even better." The way to solve
such problem, is having a language specific edition.

So there are teams and individuals appear to make their distributions
based on Ubuntu, or we are regarding them as Ubuntu Derivatives. The
existence of these derivatives help us spread our distribution in the
positive side, but there are really negative side, it's not just a
problem on user choice, like between Fedora and Ubuntu, but something
influence our build of community. Those derivatives always not only
ship language packs but also some small tweaks for specific user
groups  (not like Mint, which makes some bigger differences). Due to
many reasons, there always be breakages and bugs that never existed in
official Live CD. Users have to choose a provider that he or she can
trust when they are about to turn to Ubuntu but can hardly accept to
start from a global edition Live CD with minor support of his or her
language. But who can make sure the quality of these derivatives?
Perhaps nobody can tell. For the derivatives provided by non-profit
organizations, situations are better than those profit-driven teams. I
know some editions have changes that bring security holes, ship Ads
(e.g. hard change on Firefox home page which point to a site full of
Ads), and of course some of them refused to open there changes. Yes,
users are able to drop those unwilling changes, but why he or she
tries a derivative if they like to deal with such issues? We may still
say it doesn't matter a lot up to here. Then, most of those
derivative's authors don't supply support even though some of them
have make changes and cause problems, and even some of them push the
support work to local community deliberately. Apart from general
questions, these users always ask about problems caused by
derivative's changes. It is an annoying and overwhelming job to
answer, even just tell them "to use the official one" can be an awful
thing that few people like to do. This lead to discount to our
community, and those users may think Ubuntu and our community are not
friendly because most of them don't know the real situation exactly.

Making official localized Live CDs can also lead to a new stage of
Live CD usage. A Live CD can be used as a demo, a rescue system, or
even a temporary working environment, the live session is a feature
that many users like very much. As mentioned before, a not English
spoken user can find some very limited support in the current Live CD.
We need to admit it can hardly be used to do anything other than run a
installation. Even for a demo purpose, other will always ask about the
nearly all English environment. I've said in the beginning of this
piece, users prefer to seeing that every corner he or she can reach is
localized. To achieve a better usage of Live CD, a full localization
is critical for these users. As for languages that need input method
to input characters, for instance CJK languages (Chinese, Japanese and
Korean), without a full featured input method, their usage of Live CD
can be even more limited. It is really hard to input these complex
scripts, though we have ibus with general m17n support by default, but
you can only type characters one by one, such thing look very
ridiculous for nowadays input method development and usage. When you
cannot input a sentence, how can you make it even if you just want to
search the web for some articles via live session?

Apart from the meanings of official localized Live CDs above, users
can save time on downloading and installing language support and
perhaps other common software using a localized Live CD. For example,
to complete a basic language support of Chinese needs around 100MiB to
be downloaded, such a size only count in the language packs and input
method without pulling in any other common software like StarDict to
land on the system. With a localized Live CD, users can have a usable
environment to be installed when they can't access a fast Internet
connection, or even without a connection, such feature is obviously
welcomed by many users who have desired it for long. With a fully
localized environment, we can simplify user's configuration process,
and make it really almost ready-to-use once installed.

Making the localized Live CDs don't need any changes on our most
infrastructures, it is just a matter of default selection of software
in the CD. This will cause some more work for CD image team,
translation exportation and our ISO building facilities, but I think
it worth it. The intention of default package sets and some QA work
can be done by the LoCo teams.

We can't provide Live CDs for all languages, especially at the very
beginning, but starting with having a try for some languages that have
special need of care and a big amount of potential users is
worthwhile. We can accumulate experience and make the process better.
Windows and Macs can have language specific editions, why we can't?

Providing official localized editions can be a big step forward on
spreading Ubuntu and free software to the world. The progress of
making it out is another try on the cooperation of development
community and local communities. Ubuntu is Linux for Human Beings, I
think such an action is really to that point, which will benefit a lot
of users throughout the world.

Best regards,
Aron Xu

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list