Synaptic strings (translating makes me want to revoke my life certificate)

Øivind Hoel oivind.hoel at
Sat Sep 24 09:40:39 CDT 2005

There are lots of similar offenders, but I picked synaptic because
it's mostly untranslated in my language. I'm quite put off by lunatic
strings flagged for translation in synaptic, and I understand more
fully why this application has received little love on the translation

I could point out all the strings that annoy me, but I'll leave that
for my upcoming bug reportinstead. I just want to spark a discussion
around strings in ubuntu and its supplied applications. So, here are
the first few offenders I came across:

> ../common/ ../common/
> "Stat failed for %s"

A better string would be: File %s not found, since "stat" has nothing
to do in user-exposed translation-flagged messages. Of course, this
message could mean other things than that the file simply wasn't
found, and should be better handled by the application itself, not

> ../common/
> Failed to reopen fd

What's this supposed to mean? Would a typical user know what fd means
here? "What the hell is fd?" is the most likely user response.

  	Cannot find filename or size tag

Same here - "cannot find filename / size tag??"

> ../common/
> gzip failed, perhaps the disk is full.

Perhaps this could be replaced with "Decompressing _something_ failed,
perhaps your disk is full", but it'd still make little sense to the
typical ubuntu user.

> ../common/ ../common/ ../common/
> Unmounting CD-ROM...

Messages like unmounting/mounting CDroms shouldn't be exposed at all.
A better string would be something along the lines of "Readying CD for
use", but still, why should a user be exposed to such messages? The
whole mount/umount concept is difficult enough for new users.

Anyway, all these silly strings may look bad enough in english, but
turn into complete rubbish when translated to other languages. In
norwegian, the current translation makes mounting a cd sound more like
what you do when you put a shiny new lamp on your wall or assemble a
lego masterpiece...

I hope this mail is more understandable than synaptic strings...
What do we do to apps like this? File upstream bugs and pray the
authors are willing to rethink their string usage and/or error
handling or fork/write new software where the UI is designed FIRST -
as it should?

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