Thursday, January 8, 2009

Viewing Your System in Another Language in Ubuntu

One of the many things that originally attracted me to the Linux world was being able to install language support for languages other than English. On one of my machines, I have installed support for Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, and my default, English. With just a simple logout and a few more clicks, I can log back in with an interface in a totally different language. I can have a Chinese, Japanese, or Swedish system whenever I want.

This is very useful if you are going to be doing a lot of work in a foreign language, or if you are studying a foreign language and want to give yourself as much exposure as possible to it. It is also very handy when you have users with different native languages using the same machine. At my former university, for example, where my Japanese and Chinese students sometimes used my computer, the additional language support allowed them to log in using their own language. All in all, it is a very useful feature.

Taking advantage of this feature in the GNOME environment is very easy and, depending on the language you wish to use, requires little in terms of special installation measures. Basically all you have to do is install a group of support files for each language you want to add to your system. You can do this quite easily by going to the System menu and selecting Administration -> Language Support.

You will be prompted for your password at this point, so provide what is required, and the Language Support window will appear. In that window, check the boxes next to the languages for which you want to install support. Once you have made your selections, click the Apply button, and the Language Selector will begin downloading and then installing the support packages you specified.

Language Support is another graphical front end for APT, and that being the case, be sure to close all other APT-related tools before using it.

Multilingual Login
Once you have installed support for any additional languages you want, you can log out of your current session and log in to a new one in a different language environment. The actual switch is made from your login screen.

Just below the text box where you would normally type your username, click the link that says Language, after which a window with a list of the languages you have installed will appear. Select the language you want to use in the next session by clicking once on its name and then clicking the OK button. The language list window will then close automatically, and you can proceed as usual by typing your login name and password (pressing the ENTER key after each, of course). A little window will then pop up asking you if you want to use the language you’ve chosen as your default language forever and ever. You can either click Just for This Session or Make Default depending on your personal preferences. Whatever you do end up choosing, fear not; it’s no big deal to change back at a later point in time by logging out of your system, logging back in to your system under your previous default language, and clicking Make Default.

Your startup process will then continue, and everything will progress as it usually does. Depending on what language you’ve chosen, once your desktop appears you will be in another linguistic world. Your menus, applications, and even the little Tips windows that pop up when you run your mouse over a panel icon will all be in the newly selected language.

Source of Information : Ubuntu for Non-Geeks (2nd Ed)

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