Translating the Debian installer
As some of you know, I’ll stop working on Galician translations (of everything) after Lenny is released (or after the end of October, if Lenny is not released before). Before that, I’m going to start documenting several aspects of my work on it in several blog posts. I’m not going to follow any particular order; when everything’s written, I’ll collate the documents and make them available together in a single coherent document.
Although it is written for the future Galician team, this work (even the final document) will be written in English. If it is a problem for anyone, I don’t want them as translators. And, also, this will make this document potentially useful for other teams.
The Debian installer system (d-i, for short) is made up of several components. Some of these components were written especially for the Debian installer; others, however, are standalone applications which are used during the installation of Debian. The translations of many of these components are managed separately; however, an effort is being made to keep track of them, providing a single dashboard where a translator can see the status of the d-i translations, get files to translate, instructions for submitting the translations, etc. This dashboard resides at http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/l10n-stats/.
There is a translation guide for d-i, explaining what components are in each level, how to retrieve the files to translate or update, and how to submit the translated files. I’m giving here a short summary in this post.
For translation purposes, d-i is divided in five levels. Level 1 contains the strings everyone sees when installing Debian — the following levels contain components whose translation is less user-visible. Therefore, when translating d-i you should prioritize level 1 translations, then level 2 translations and so on. However, this doesn’t mean that they are any less important; you should try to always keep them up to date!
You can see the status of every language in each level by going to the l10n-stats page. If you click on a language you can see a text file with a more detailed report on the translations for that level and language. You can also opt in to receive emails every morning when the status in a level for your language changes — you’ll have to ask Christian Perrier to subscribe you to the websec-txt notifications for your language.
Level 1 translations are maintained on Alioth, so you should get an Alioth account and request to be added to the d-i project as translator. Then, you’ll be able to download and upload the translations using Subversion. There are lots of programs and packages that comprise level 1; however, to make translation easier and more efficient, the translations are consolidated in only 5 files (called sublevels). In this way, if the same string appears several times in several programs, you only need to translate it once. It’s 5 files instead of a single one so that it’s easier to distribute work, assign priorities, etc.
The other levels consist of translations of individual programs, which are maintained in many different ways. The particular methods you have to use for each package are detailed in the translation guide. For most of them, it involves downloading the .POT or .PO file from a read-only version control repository, and uploading the translation using the Debian BTS.