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Final report from the meeting in Extremadura

Christian Perrier have posted the final report from The first Debian internationalisation meeting from September 7th 2006 to September 9th 2006 in Casar de Caceres, Extremadura, Spain

The first Debian internationalisation meeting occurred from September
7th 2006 to September 9th 2006 in Casar de Caceres, Extremadura,

This meeting has been organised as part of the “Extremadura sessions”
entirely sponsored by the government of the Extremadura region in
Spain (“Junta de Extremadura”) as a commitment and reward to the
Debian Project which is the base of the LinEx custom Linux
distribution they use for their general IT project entirely based on
free software.

23 people from all over the world, representing various different
scope in the Debian internationalisation and localisation effort, as
well as representative from related projects participated to
this meeting. The full list of participants is available on [1].

The meeting was organized with several technical and social goals:

* making a new step towards a real “i18n Task Force” for the Debian Project
* draw the final plans for an official “infrastructure server” for
all Debian i18n and l10n activities
* enforce the collaboration with the WordForge free software project,
which was decided during sessions in Debconf6 in Mexico and
continued into a “Google Summer of Code” project granted to
Gintautas Miliauskas about “improvements to the architecture
of the Pootle server: separation of backend and frontend”
* continue the revival of the Debian Packages Description
Translation Project (DDTP) and begin to integrate it in a first
Debian i18n server
* have more specialized talks, BOFs and brainstorming sessions about :
* use of po4a
* localization-config revival for etch
* modularization of language handling in D-I
* “language packs”
* testing D-I localisation

GSOC 2006 and projects related to Wordforge[2]'s Pootle[3]

Gintautas Miliauskas presented the results and achievements of his
work during the GSOC 2006. The initial goal was the separation of the
frontend and the backend in the Pootle server, in collaboration with
Pootle developers (Friedel Wolff, from the Wordforge project, was
present during the meeting, as well as Javier Sola, co-director of the
Wordforge project).

Gintautas succeeded to write a storage backend which will be possible
to be used as a storage backend for Pootle. This will allow to
separate the storage from the Pootle frontend.

Gintautas and Friedel Wolff began, during the meeting, to work on
integrating this work into the Pootle server (the 0.10 version
was released on August 29th 2006).

The meeting allowed Wordforge contributors and directors to draw more
precise plans on their roadmap and eventually figure out how to drive
new resources into their project to fit these plans. We again verified
the deep commitment of the Wordforge community to fit the needs of the
Debian project and work on a partner basis.

Building the Debian infrastructure server
The Debian i18n task force and the Junta de Extremadura
representatives (namely César Gómez Martín, who organized all the
local logistics, travel and related practical items) agreed about
dedicating a server for the Debian i18n activities.

This server will be hosted in the Junta de Extremadura datacenter, in
Badajoz, Spain. It will be entirely dedicated to the Debian i18n
activities, first as a test platform for the future Debian i18n
infrastructure and later as part of the official Debian servers

During the first phase, this server will be added to the
domain. Felipe Augusto van de Wiel will be the main server
administrator, helped by César Gómez Martín as local contact. Felipe
will build a system admin team for the testing and setup phase.

The initial server was setup by Felipe during the meeting. We
consider this as the first technical achievement towards a Debian i18n
infrastructure. The server features a Pootle server and
chrooted environments have been setup for installation of alternative
or complementary software (for instance, Eddy Petrisor began working
on setting up an implementation of transdict).

Initial work began to “feed” the server with data extracted from the
Debian packages description translations, with help of Michael Bramer,
initiator and leader of the DDTP project, who was present at the
meeting. These data will help Wordforge developers to push Pootle off
its limit and improve its ability to sustain high loads.

This data will also help testing the integration of Gintautas work,
namely the storage backend, in heavy load conditions.

DDTP (Debian packages Descriptions Translation Project) future
Michael Bramer presented the status of the DDTP project. The Debian
mirror infrastructure is now ready to host Translate- files for
the use of modified APT versions. A version of APT which can use these
translated descriptions has been successfully tested.

The i18n team members agreed to commit themselves to get this modified
APT into etch and support the translated descriptions feature and the
possible bugs that could come because of it.

A very basic infrastructure exists to allow translation updates. It
fits the very simple needs of translating material even if it is very
far from the ideal infrastructure.

A first attempt to feed the demo Pootle server with PO files generated
from the raw DDTP material has been launched. Though not completely
successful, it helped showing that, after some more debugging, we
could very soon be able to have our demo server including the DDTP
translations. This will serve as a high load test. However, managing
translation updates through this method will not be supported and that
demo server should not be used for production work. We recommend using
the DDTSS interface, written by Martijn van Oosterhout [4].

Packages i18n support improvement and NMU campaign
The basis for more active actions by the Debian i18n task force has
been drawn.

We will begin working on a few directions, some before the release,
some after:
* complete the transition to po-debconf (and make the use of it
a policy requirement)
* push the inclusion of translation work in packages
* help the gettext 0.15 transition

Decision has been taken to request for the addition of a debian-i18n
pseudo-package. Most work will be tracked by using metabugs on this
package. Metabugs will be used to identify different category of i18n
bugs (some ideas were: transition-po-debconf,
transition-po4a-manpages, transition-new-gettext,
transition-utf8-support, cat-po-debconf, cat-po-native, cat-po4a). The
combination of these metabugs, of blockers, and of the existing
usertags (for languages) will be helpful for the i18n Task
Force. Gerfried Fuchs is responsible for asking for the pseudo-package

A NMU campaign will start to push as many po-debconf translations as
possible into packages during the next months. It will use
infrastructure and methods put in place by Lucas Wall and Christian
Perrier [5] back in Jan. 2005 for a similar campaign to push
po-debconf transitions.

Thomas Huriaux and Gerfried Fuchs will initiate the work by
identifying pending l10n bugs and sort packages according to the age
and number of pending l10n bugs (in various categories if
possible). Contact will be made with Lucas for the re-use of his
infrastructure for this campaign (Felipe Augusto van de Wiel). The
templates will have to be checked (Stefano Canepa), the pre-NMU
schedule could also be reviewed.

First results at [6] and [7]

The Debian Developers present at the meeting enforced their commitment
to participate in this NMU campaign.

Packages which do not use po-debconf for the interaction with users
should not be allowed in Etch+1 (RC). This should be proposed as a
release goal.

Localization-config (l-c) revival
Christian Perrier presented the l-c package, which was aimed at
completing the system localization on installed systems, in relation
with D-I.

l-c is used in the sarge installer to handle various
localization/internationalization related parameters, which are not
considered to be properly handled in the relevant packages: X serever
keyboard settings, GDM localization, dictionaries settings, KDE
parameters, etc.

In sarge, l-c is run during the second stage install, in two steps,
before and after the packages and tasks installation. Up to now, this
has not been re-integrated to D-I. The D-I team is awaiting for this
to happen, even though this is not considered as release critical for

Christian did some early work on that purpose and mentioned that this
all needs testing. The new version of the package, which provides a
new udeb package, has been processed by the ftpmasters during the

Several aspects that previously required the use of l-c do now
correctly handle l10n, so it's quite likely that the tool's importance
will be lowered.

However, some work has now to be done to adapt l-c actions to
etch. Gerfried Fuchs agreed to conduct this task, first in relation
with Christian Perrier, backup maintainer, then with Konstantinos
Margaritis, the main maintainer.

Fonts and Input Methods (Keyboard handling – console and X)
Javier Solá presented the Khmer font. This pointed some assumptions
made by latin glyphs users (height of glyphs, hyperlink decoration,
shortcut for menus). Friedel Wolff indicated a page started on the
translate wiki
( to gather
this information.

Guntupalli Karunakar talked about input methods (X and Gnome keyboard,
SCIM, IME extension for Firefox), Jaldhar Vyas presented SCIM (Smart
Common Input Method), and Kenshi Muto talked about the Japanese glyph
and input method.

This topic also popped up during the l-c BOF session. That session
concluded that an interesting post-etch would would be creating a
matrix of all languages we support in D-I and, for each, identify what
should be the default keymap in X, then recreate this keymap with
console-setup tools, and add it to console-data. These keymaps would
then be the only proposed ones in D-I, which would help getting
consistency between console and X keymaps. Felipe Augusto van de Wiel
volunteered for this work.

Improving Debian i18n/l10n Documentation
One area of activity is improving the i18n/l10n documentation,
esp. the i18n guide (
and related to areas discussed in this report. Also documentation
about some tools like defoma, unicode fonts, input, scim, etc. Also a
quick & easy guide to building a CDDD (CDD for Dummies)… Jaldhar &
Karunakar volunteered for this.

Modularisation of D-I languages support
There was an extensive discussion on how to improve the way d-i
handles translations so that it will be possible, in the future, to
provide as many translations as we are provided with.

The current d-i limitations are:
* initrd size
* RAM consumption
* required bandwidth

Alternatives proposed:

* separate translations from udebs and only download the one selected
by users
* generate different initrds per language families
* only translate non expert questions
* reduce localechooser translations (all country names in all languages)
* move translations in 2 udebs (one for initrd components and another
for other components
* use the 'lowmem' mechanisms to remove unused translations

Language packs
From a side discussion from the D-I modularisation initially, this
topic derived into a deep improvised brainstorming session. A first
draft summary is present at Self:I18n/TranslationDataDistribution.

A language pack (or language package) is a “complement” for a software
package that provides a translation for a given language separately
from the main package. It is distributed in a separate way and can
either be produced by the upstream developers and extracted from the
main package source or they can be produced by independent third
parties. For more information see Self:I18n/LanguagePacks

Translations currently distributed in the Debian archive through:

* Binary packages
* Architecture independent packages associated with binary software packages

The discussion started focusing on one of the advantages of the
language pack approach by Ubuntu: the capability to provide updated
translations post-release. Some agreement is reached to try reaching a
similar goal for etch+1. Some initial work (pre-etch) could include:

* Ubuntu's glibc patch to have an alternate location for MO binary files
* study a mechanism for translation updates for non-gettext data

Testing D-I translations
The need for more tests of the D-I translations was repeated. It is
important that many users test the installer in their languages. Lior
Kaplan presented how to use qemu to make these tests (how to run qemu,
how to test the translations, make changes, and test again

Defining the needs of Debian for its infrastructure server
This discussion essentially reaffirmed the needs we mentioned in the
Debconf6 i18n sessions. See [8]

These identified needs should be reformalised in a shorter document,
probably maintained on the wiki. The Wordforge developers will then be
able to mention whether each of these requirements is already
supported, planned to be supported…or to be added to Pootle's

i18n wiki and IRC channels

The next i18n server will feature a wiki for dedicated i18n
activites. We will think about moving thing to the general Debian wiki
when it appears to be more appropriate. The i18n wiki should only be a
work wiki for meetings, common work, etc.

The i18n Task Force runs a #debian-i18n channel on All
Debian developers and contributors are welcome to join and contact
i18n wizards on that channel.

Videos of the meeting will be available at [9]
(this will be announced separately on debian-i18n)

Meeting conclusion
All meeting attendees would like to express their deep gratitude to
the Junta de Extremadura for supporting this meeting organisation by
providing lodging and travel funding. We particularly want to thank
César Gómez Martín for the incredible ammount of work and energy he
did put in this organisation, including booking the famous and hot sun
of Extremadura for the whole meeting.

We sincerely hope that this event will give a big push to
internationalisation in Debian for the benefit of the entire project
as well as derived works such as the LinEx distribution used by the
Junta de Extremadura.


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