Improve LiveCD localisation (Was: Remove F-Spot from the LiveCD)

Sense Hofstede sense at
Sat Jun 27 13:01:38 UTC 2009

2009/6/23 Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt at>:
> Hash: SHA1
> Sense Hofstede wrote on 22/06/09 15:26:
>> Including more Mono applications would justify placing Mono on the
>> LiveCD, but we should ask ourselves what's more important: supporting
>> Mono applications on the LiveCD or offering proper localisation
>> support on the LiveCD.
> "Supporting Mono applications on the live CD" is not important.
> Including F-Spot on the live CD is important.
> Including Banshee on the live CD is also important.
> If you want to propose a change to what's included on the CD, you need
> to make that proposal precise. For example: "We should remove
> application X and instead ship language packs Y and Z, because more
> potential Ubuntu users are deterred by the lack of those language packs
> than are attracted to it by the presence of X." Preferably backed up by
> measurements of how much space the various packages take up, and how
> many people are fluent in those languages but not in English.
> The greater the scope of a change, the more difficult it would be to get
> people to agree with it. For example, "We should replace Tomboy with
> GNote, and replace F-Spot with Solang, and cancel our plan to replace
> Rhythmbox with Banshee, and instead ship language packs A, B, C, D, and
> E" is complicated and therefore less likely to be approved (even if
> Solang was a mature application).
> This is not special-casing Mono; a similar situation applies to
> xulrunner, which takes up a chunk of space on the CD where WebKit could
> theoretically perform the same roles.
>> The problem that the boot menu seems to falsely promise full
>> multi-language support is a critical one.
> I agree, but you're most likely to help fix it if you change the way
> you're going about it.
> Cheers
> - --
> Matthew Paul Thomas
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
> Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -
> iEYEARECAAYFAkpA00AACgkQ6PUxNfU6ecpnwgCfcaVo1fjM9Fna46Y+nH504GHe
> 08IAnAuny2/TuDftSJ1czXnh1Biv/CYx
> =8Ryh
> --
> Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list
> Ubuntu-devel-discuss at
> Modify settings or unsubscribe at:

Thank you for your reply! I'm fairly new to proposing such important
things, but I'll try to give you as less trouble as possible.

At Wikipedia there is a 'List of countries by English-speaking
population'[1]. I know Wikipedia isn't that trustworthy as a
scientific source, but it's useful for the initial discussion and a
lot of its facts are based on a research done and published by the
European Commission[2] and other research.
Please keep in mind while reading these numbers that most people are
more comfortable reading their mother-tongue, or find it more
difficult to comprehend English.

I think that Ubuntu should try to include as many complete
translations as possible on the LiveCD. If a CD isn't big enough,
maybe we should consider making a LiveDVD and keeping a smaller LiveCD
for the computers that can't read DVDs.

I couldn't find a list of currently included translations anywhere,
but I'll assume it contains at least English, Spanish, French and
German. If we want to reach as much people as possible, we should
include translations for all internationally used languages, or
languages spoken by a lot of people. I propose to add at least
Chinese, Arabic and HIndi to the LiveCD, and Spanish and French too,
if they wouldn't be included. In that case the CD included most world
languages and most people would be able to understand it.

This would also require some other changes to the way localisation
happens. Like I said before, it's vital for users to have their
system, and in this case the LiveCD, translated to a language they can
understand properly. Currently the system defaults to English if a
translated string can't be found. However, for a lot of people other
languages are easier to understand. E.g. Western-Frisian is a very
incomplete translation -- in this case because there aren't many
users, but that's not the point, it's an example -- and thus a
significant part of the system is English when you choose this
language. But Western-Frisian is a regional tongue in the Netherlands,
so most people speak Dutch as well. Therefore it would be better if
Dutch would be used as fall-back language.
This situation applies to other languages as well.

Some translations are complete, however, they aren't included on the
LiveCD. What if that language is spoken in a region where another
language is much more common in international use than English?
Wouldn't it be better to let the LiveCD use another language if e.g.
the user choose Western-Frisian on boot and Dutch was miraculously
included? That would make everything a lot more understandable.

OK, this mail is becoming quite a mess. Lets summarize what I actually
would like to see:

- Include more commonly spoken languages on the LiveCD. This can be
achieved by removing unnecessary programs or stuff taking so many
space that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of including. I
suggested Mono, but if more applications that depend on this are going
to be included, it could get tricky.

- Change the fall-back mechanism used when the translation for a
certain string isn't available to use the language we expect the user
to understand best next. This could take shape in the form of a tree:
e.g. Wester-Frisian isn't found, so Dutch is tried. Dutch can't be
found either, so the Dutch pack redirects to the English string.

Problems: what about countries like Belgium, where Dutch and French
are both commonly spoken? Should the timezone be used to determine
this and select French as fall-back language in case Dutch can't be


Kind regards,
Sense Hofstede

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list