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How to set up language and textconsole ?

Hi all,

(Would you pls cc to me directly ?)

I've some nagging questions around this since long :) my textconsole is somehow broken, it does lacks correct localization and does not display the german umlauts.

The specific problem is that (1) the laptop has american keyboard layout. Still i'd need the umlauts for the localized messages (manpages etc) and user interfaces (like midnight commander).

The first question is about localization.

I've installed 

locales 2.9.25 (update ATM waiting for libc6 update)
I did choose several locales to be generated, like en_US and de_DE in three encodings: UTF-8, ISO-8859-1 and -15. I can see them compile w/o error.

How do i configure the language ? My login shell (bash) seems to source ~/.profile, and i tried different export LANG= strings there but none shows any effect. What's the correct syntax ? For example, in /etc/locale.gen it's de_DE.UTF-8 but somehow i remember also de_DE.utf8 ?
Should i make it LANG=de or LANG=de_DE ? I tried all these but i just can not see any german manpages, although manpages-de is installed.
Does it make sense to choose UTF-8 at all, since it's american keyboard ? But i like to be able to read UTF-8 encoded textfiles on textconsole. And would this setting also affect the X environment ? Would i need UTF-8 then for X, because i have to deal with UTF-8 files (documents, filenames) ?

I also saw LANGUAGE=bla, do i need this too ? Is it exchangeable with LANG= or something different ?

Then the next question is, where to put this export ? There are so many config files !

I'd like to set system default to something like en_US (do i need to make it en_US.ISO-88591 ??)

* I think /etc/default/locale is used for sure.
* But how about /etc/environment ?
* I would not touch /etc/profile to avoid update syncs.

Then the user specific setting:

* Is ~/.profile the proper choice ?
* Will this be recognized in X ?
* Is xorg Option XkbLayout unaffected from all those settings ?

*sigh* i'm horribly lost !

Now for console ...

It's a Thinkpad T60, small 14" display with 1400x1050 resolution, standard debian sid/testing, stock kernel 2.6.30. (Does it matter it's an ATI GPU?)

I can see there are different packages around 'console'. 
Actually i've installed:

The display has a 1400x1050 resolution and ATM the configured console font Terminus size 12 is the best i can get. But in the past i had a smaller font which looke3d very nice, i guess it was Terminus 12, but this would not work at all anymore. This changed suddenly at some update.
I think it was the move to grub2, which displayed a way too small menu image (a sqaure in the left upper corner) when i set the gfxpayload to 1400x1050. Maybe this is related ?

Maybe i should mention that i don't install any display manager like kdm. The machine boots into text login, i need to type two short strings, and then X to startup a standard KDE. I would like to keep it that way, because it has proven reliable under so many difficult circumstances (like no-working ATI, nealry-out-of-battery-power, or simply totally in a hurry to lookup some phone number or so) and i am used to textconsole tools. Still, i often start standard X session. But i can't leave the language configuration to kdm.

So far...! I know this quite a bunch of question, but i'm thankful if even a few could be addressed. Maybe someone with german textconsole layout could look up some of the mentioned configurations, and tell me how it looks like ?



ps. I'm roaming for several days and may not be able to respond immediately.

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