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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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9.8 Multilingualization (m17n)

Localization (l10n), Section 9.7 enabled by language-env package and alike are aimed to achieve monolingual localization. These packages also use traditional encodings as the choice for the text encoding. You cannot mix French and Japanese text in such environment since they use incompatible ISO-8859-1 and EUC-JP encodings respectively.

You can obtain multilingualized UTF-8 Desktop using Gnome and KDE programs started under one of the available UTF-8 locales. (Sarge) In such environment, you can mix English, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese characters under UTF-8 compliant softwares.

m17n-env is a helper script to set up such environment. The multilingualized UTF-8 environment is configured by running set-m17n-env command from the root and the user account. [50]

Under such environment, new multilingualized input method (IM) using scim is preferred. IM offered by the scim is turned on and off by typing Ctrl-Space together. The input conversion engine can be switched by clicking small SCIM panel.

You can still have easy access to the traditional encoding environment through the custom locale consoles created by m17n-env. This comes handy when you need to edit old EUC-JP or ISO-8859-1 encoded files.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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