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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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9.7.1 Basics of localization

There are several aspects to customizing for localization and national language support.


9.7.1.1 Localizing the keyboard

Debian is distributed with keymaps for nearly two dozen keyboards. In Woody, reconfigure the keyboard by:

  • dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low console-data # console

  • dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-xfree86 # XF4

  • dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-common-v3 # XF3


9.7.1.2 Localizing data files

The vast majority of Debian software packages support data handling of non-US-ASCII characters through the LC_CTYPE environment variable offered by the locale technology in glibc.

  • 8-bit clean: practically all programs

  • other Latin character sets (e.g. ISO-8859-1 or ISO-8859-2): the majority of programs

  • multibyte languages such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean: many new applications


9.7.1.3 Localizing the display

X can display any coding, including UTF-8, and supports all fonts. The list includes not only all the 8-bit fonts but also 16-bit fonts such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Multibyte character input method is supported by the Alternative X input methods, Section 9.7.10 mechanism. See Example for a multilingual X window system, Section 9.7.9 and UTF-8 support for the X terminal emulator, Section 9.7.12.

Japanese EUC code display is also available in a (S)VGA graphics console through the kon2 package. There is an alternative new Japanese display, jfbterm, which uses a frame-buffer console, too. In these console environments, the Japanese input method must be supplied by the application. Use egg package for Emacs and use japanized jvim package for a Vim environment.

Installation of non Unicode fonts to X will help in displaying documents with any encoding in X. So do not worry too much about encoding of fonts.


9.7.1.4 Localizing messages and documentation

Translations exist for many of the text messages and documents that are displayed in the Debian system, such as error messages, standard program output, menus, and manual pages. Currently, support for manual pages in German, Spanish, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian is provided through the manpages-LANG packages (where LANG is a comma-separated list of two-letter ISO country codes. Use apt-cache search manpages-|less to get a list of available Unix manual pages.)

To access an NLS manual page, the user must set the environment variable LC_MESSAGES to the appropriate string. For example, in the case of the Italian-language manual pages, LC_MESSAGES needs to be set to it. The man program will then search for Italian manual pages under /usr/share/man/it/.


Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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