In the free software community on the Internet we communicate mostly in the English language. Most of our work is done in English, but it is hoped that all Debian documentation, software and the installation will be available in every language one day. We are constantly working towards that goal, however, many obstacles are still ahead.
The Debian web site and content negotiation
The Debian web site uses content negotiation to automatically deliver web pages in your preferred language - if your browser is configured properly and a page exists in that language. We have created a page that explains how to set up the preferred language for your browser.
The Debian language pages
These pages contain information on using Debian in non-English languages. Each language's page has information on Debian resources that are available in that language, including any mailing lists.
Adding support for a new language
Debian is run completely by volunteers. If we don't currently support your language, you should consider organizing an effort to do so. To fully support a language, the following areas of Debian must be worked on:
- Installation system
- Please see the information for translators in the debian-installer Subversion tree. Work relating to the installation of Debian is discussed on the debian-boot mailing list.
- Debian documentation
- Please see the documentation project's web pages. This is discussed on the debian-doc mailing list.
- Debian web pages
- Please see the pages for the Debian web site translators. This is discussed on the debian-www mailing list.
- Debian wiki pages
- Please see the translations section of the Debian wiki editor guidelines. This is discussed on the debian-www mailing list.
- Special languages
- Some languages require software to have special features in various aspects like displaying, inputing, printing, string handling, text processing, and so on. East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) need multibyte support and special input methods. Thai, Indian languages, and so on need combining character support. RTL (right-to-left) languages such as Arabic and Hebrew need bidi (bi-direction) support. Note that these requirements are preconditions for all other parts of i18n and l10n for these languages, though this is a very difficult part of i18n. This is discussed on the debian-i18n mailing list.
Supporting a language is an ongoing effort. It is not enough to simply translate some documents. Everything changes with time and all documentation must be kept up to date. It is thus suggested that a group of people get together to share the load. A good way to get started is to request a Debian user mailing list for your language.
Central Debian translation statistics
We maintain a translation statistic which contains data on the translated message catalogs in Debian packages.