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Re: Using "language packs" in Debian Installer

Before I forget it: I am very happy that this subject has received such 
serious attention during the meeting. Thanks to all involved!

On Saturday 16 September 2006 02:05, Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 15, 2006 at 02:53:33AM +0200, Frans Pop wrote:
> > There are currently two issues with having so many translations in
> > the installer, both of which need to be addressed:
> Actually, on the Extremadura meetings some other issues where brought
> up. I'm not aware of d-i's internals enough to decide if there are
> issues or not. Could you please review the notes from that session to
> see if they are accurate? They are available at
> http://wiki.debian.org/I18n/Extremadura2006ModularizingD-I

In themselves they are mostly accurate.
I have added some comments (marked with [FJP]) in the wiki. I've added 
them separately for now so people who participated in the discussion can 
distinguish them easily. I'll leave it up to you to integrate the 
comments at some point in the future.

It could be nice to also add the proposal I made in my previous mail on 
this page.

> The only option in that list I wrote similar to the one you provided is
> the one that "cleans" templates (removes unused languages) after the
> localechooser step (and idea similar to the one locale-purge uses, but
> applied to debconf information).

That is quite a bit more invasive than my proposal.

> Going further with that idea: would it make sense to provide all
> debconf templates in each udeb divided per language and installed (by
> udpkg, optionally compressed as you suggest) at
> /var/cache/debconf/<locale>/templates.dat?

I'm not sure, but I do think it is a reasonable implementation.
I would think that merging from individual files will be at least faster 
and possibly simpler than merging from a single file per udeb. It should 
also require less memory during the merge.
The main question probably is if a lot of small compressed files use up 
significantly more space (memory) than fewer larger ones.

IMO this needs to be checked by whoever will work on the implementation 
and decided then.

> Once the user has selected 
> a locale anna (or udpkg) could remove automatically all the contents of
> /var/cache/debconf/<locale> for all locales different to the one the
> user selected and then merge the information available there into
> /var/cache/debconf/templates.dat (or have cdebconf load both files into
> memory to offer translations if available).
> Would that be feasible? The advantage over your proposal is that unused
> locales would be removed right after udeb installation (they would
> still be provided by the udeb though), reducing memory footprint for
> the RAM disk. It would require additional logic in udpkg (or anna),
> however.

The disadvantage is that you can no longer switch to a different language 
after you have made your selection. For actual installations that will 
not often make a real difference, but I would expect that people do 
change their mind occasionally and it would also hinder testing.

It would also require a change to localechooser as the installer should 
not offer to change language after the deletion of translations has taken 

I would not like to see this done for all installations: why handicap the 
installer if a system has plenty of memory?
I can see this as a possible change for lowmem level 1: instead of falling 
back to only English, offer language selection and then display a dialog 
that all other languages will be disabled. It should mean an almost 
negligible change in the lowmem levels (one translation fits in ~0.5MB).


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