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BiDirectional text and right-to-left languages support in Debian Installer

After very hard and deep work by Steve Langasek (using preliminary
work from Shlomi Loubaton), the Debian Installer team is proud to
announce that right-to-left (RTL) languages such as Arabic, Hebrew,
Farsi (Persian) and several others (usually called "BiDi support") are
now supported by the first stage installation process of Debian.

This work needed to include patches to libraries used for user input
during the installation phase, in text mode.

The very latest netinst images built by the Debian Installer team,
with BiDi support, are available at:

(other arches also include BiDi support, replace "i386" by your
architecture name in the above link)


Debian is thus now, as far as we know, the very first Linux
distribution to support RTL languages from the beginning of its
installation process.

A lot of work remains to be done, for instance keeping RTL and BiDi
working when the distribution is installed, or right-aligning dialog
boxes, but a giant step has been achieved.

We also need to properly support BiDi/RTL with debconf in the
installation 2nd stage and at the console, after rebooting. The
not_working/2nd_stage-arabic.png screenshot at the above URL shows
that this currently is not the case (it is left-to-right displayed).

This work is part of the general globalization process of Debian and
specifically our installation software, which now includes translation
in 40 languages, covering about 68% of the world population.

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