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Bug#872867: is ISO-3166 really the optimal list for our users?

Package: localechooser
Version: 2.69
Severity: wishlist

While visiting Kosovo, I have met several people interested in becoming Debian users.

The first time I helped one of them run the Debian installation, I was baffled to find that their country was not in the list offered by the installer.

It is potentially not a good situation for a developer to be in a country, surround by 1.8 million people who consider themselves to be citizens of a country that our installer doesn't know about.  Fortunately Kosovans are really nice people and weren't upset about this but I can image they must feel quite sad each time something like this happens.

According to this section in the Debian Installer i18n guide[1], the list of countries is based on ISO3166.

According to wikipedia, ISO3166 comes from a group of 10 representatives[2] from mostly rich countries.

The Debian Social Contract[3], point 4, requires us to put our users first.  Can Debian do more to listen to the 1.8 million potential users in Kosovo and other countries like it?  Are we actually obliged to respect how our users see themselves over and above the way some bureaucrats in Geneva see them?

I would propose that we regard ISO3166 as a subset of the list of countries perceived by our users and that for the next installer release, the locale chooser offers a list of countries with a disclaimer that some of them are not in ISO3166 but they are included at the request of our users.

Maybe the list can show two columns, country and country code.  For countries where ISO3166 is not competent, the country code column could be blank.

Implementing this might be tricky but not impossible.  For example, a crude implementation may simply display the extra countries in the main list, but if somebody selects one of them, the installer shows a message apologizing for the fact they are not fully supported and offering to help them choose from a subset of related country codes.  Maybe their preferred choice (verbose country name) could be saved somewhere for later use when their country is fully supported and a future version of localechooser will help them adapt to their eventual country code during a future dist-upgrade.

For Kosovo in particular, Wikipedia notes[4] that "The code XK is being used by the European Commission,[21] the IMF, and SWIFT,[22] CLDR and other organizations as a temporary country code for Kosovo.".  Other 2-letter codes are mentioned elsewhere so the ideal solution may avoid using a 2 letter code for such countries or maybe it can borrow one of the codes used by other international organizations who didn't wait for ISO3166.

It may be interesting to support micronations like the Principality of Hutt River[5] too.



1. https://d-i.alioth.debian.org/doc/i18n/ch01s05.html#idm45330184240096
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166#Members
3. https://www.debian.org/social_contract
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Hutt_River

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