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~/.gender and $GENDER

Miriam Ruiz said:
> Hi,
> I think it's a great idea to find a way to use gender in i18n. I think it
> makes the system much more user-friendly and I fully support the idea.
> I'm not sure if /etc/passwd and GECOS is the proper way to handle that,
> anyway. I wouldn't really like a gender field used for anything else than
> i18n. For example I think it would be a horrible idea to have the user's
> gender appear in finger reports. I repeat that I wouldn't like having a
> gender
> field for anything else than i18n.
> I don't know what the best technical solution is, but I like the idea of
> being
> able to have my system referring to me in feminine for a change, and I guess
> many female users whould thank that too. Thanks for bringing this topic.

Well, my concern is only with i18n.  Thinking again about it, I tend to agree
with you in that GECOS might not be the right place.  I think users should be
free to modify their gender status within the system (e.g. to correct mistakes,
update their status after sex change, whatsoever).

After all, this represents how the user _wants_ to be addressed by her own
programs much like locales do.

I propose the following spec/plan:

  - ~/.gender file is a shell script that exports GENDER variable.
    - adduser creates that file when adding a new user.
    - so does d-i.
  - We modify the default bashrc script to source ~/.gender if it exists.
  - $GENDER variable is available to be checked from anywhere (typicaly gettext).

Robert Millan

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