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Re: And now for something completely different... etch!

Roger Leigh:

> At a later point, we should also look into recoding
> our documentation into UTF-8.

Insofar as our documentation has upper-plane Latin-1 (or
terminal-shift) characters embedded, this is sensible.
However, we need to continue to think carefully about
this.  We are going to support Unicode because we have
no practical alternative.  However, Unicode is a bad
standard.  It is highly overwrought.  Its philosophy is
wrong.  Its use complicates many things which do not
need complication.  Insofar as it contaminates clean
ascii in Debian source code and English-language
documentation, it is not a good thing.

Past character-set discussions on debian-devel have
established that many of the eastern European DDs feel
strongly about spelling their own Roman-alphabet names
without compromising with Latin-1.  Consensus was that
we should respectfully support this and other sensible
uses of Unicode, and I agree with the consensus.

However, past character-set discussions on debian-devel
have also established how maddening it is to see a '-'
in a man page, unsearchable because it is not really a
'-'; it is an en-dash or a minus or an Inuit glottal
stop or something else you can't distinguish and can't
type.  It has also been observed (by me at least) that
Unicode vastly complicates or altogether breaks rational
assumptions about how a simple printf() will display on
the terminal.  If I lose the easy ability to make a
column of ':' line neatly up in column 25 of the
terminal, while gaining the ability to display Nepalese
subjoined circumflexes and the International Phonetic
Alphabet bidirectionally, this is probably not a win for

Now, I do have some ideas as to what Debian can do about
this.  If you prod me, I am not unlikely to begin to
post them now.  Otherwise, not wanting to weigh the
release party down with such heavy discussions, I would
save them for a later thread of their own, perhaps after
a month or two.

Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org, thb@debian.org

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