Ubuntu and language packs

Loïc Martin loic.martin3 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 5 11:39:03 UTC 2009

Surfaz Gemon Meme wrote:
> Firts, I don't understand why "language-support-translations-XX"
> install a package(s) "thunderbird-locale-xx-XX" when Ubuntu don't
> install thunderbird mail client by default...  Ubuntu uses evolution
> as mail client, non?
It's due to the way translations are handled in Ubuntu (and probably
other distributions). For packages in main repositories, all program
translations for one language are grouped in a single support package,
which makes it easier to update translation (since the strings are
usually translated after a program hits the repositories, else we'd be
still waiting for two years ago programs to be 100% translated in all
languages). It also allow fixing a lot of translations without you
having to re-download hundreds of megabytes of programs each time you
language goes from 91% of string translated to 92%, you just download an
updated language pack.

> Second, I don't understan why Ubuntu keep installed English support
> packages when I chose other language.

I don't have a definite 100% answer, and indeed there might be room for
improvment, like some of the particular English a non-english speaker
wouldn't need. As for not having _any_ English support, in your case
you'd vouch for it because it would save you a few megabytes, but not
everybody is like you, and even non-fluent English person (or person
that don't speak English at all) might appreciate being able to consult
the original strings/help files in case of a) bad or innacurate
translation b) missing translation, or parts missing c) the need to
report error messages in English or communicate with people that also
use English as a common vessel. Being able to LANG=en_US my_program can
be invaluable.

> It is curious, UK and U.S English.. Also, it has even dialects of
> English:  myspell-en-au (English australian) or myspell-en-za (English
> southafrican)... O_o

That's the part that could probably be improved.

> Why a Ubuntu user from Argentina, France or any other no-English
> country will want to have these packages installed by default?

For the reason I explained above, and probably lots more. Also, if we
want to understand people questions, bug reports, and if we want not to
force people to remain helpless in front of their bugs, providing the
English as a base is not necessarily the worst tradeoff considering the
size of hard drives. Even SSD on netbook are now =>4GB (with 16 or 32GB)
which makes saving a few megas (even if it were really 130MB) not so
common (that's like 2 CD of music ripped in a bad quality). For example,
Ubuntu provides programs that the majority of users would never use
*COUGH* Evolution *COUGH* but would still be enough a pain to a decent
minority of persons  that it makes sense incuding them on a _default_
install. The 0.5% of people that would really appreciate to save a few
megas here and there can uninstall the packages on a cherry pick basis,
be it drivers for a graphic cards they don't use, sane/xsane if they
never plan to have a scanner, games if they don't plan to use them, and
so on. Or just start with the minimal install, pick only what they need
(you'll save so much compared to the 130MB it's not even funny).


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