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Engineering LibreTexts

08-A.1: Localization Options - Configuration

  • Page ID
    1.6 Given a scenario, configure localization options.

    Objectives of this Module

    In this lesson, you will:

    • Configure localization settings in Linux
    • Recognize the purpose of the graphical user interface
    • Understand remote desktop access and identify remote desktop packages
    • Use remote console and SSH tunneling

    What is Localization

    When dealing with GNU/Linux systems in an international context or for a specific country or region, both localization (abbreviated to l10n) and internationalization (abbreviated to i18n) play an important part. Localization allows administrators and users to select the language of choice on the platform, time zone selection, character ordering and more. In Linux, localization is supported in various levels ranging from kernel support up to end user application support.

    Localization is the process of creating or adapting a product to a specific locale, i.e., to the language, cultural context, conventions and market requirements of a specific target market. With a properly localized product, a user can interact with this product using his/her own language and cultural conventions. It also means that all user-visible messages and all user documentation (printed and electronic) use the language and cultural conventions of the user. Finally, the properly localized product meets all regulatory and other requirements of the user’s country/region.

    Internationalization is a way of designing and producing products that can be easily adapted to different locales. This requires extracting all language, country/region and culturally dependent elements from a product. In other words, internationalization is the process of developing an application whose feature design and code design do not make assumptions based on a single locale, and whose source code simplifies the creation of different local editions of a program.

    The /usr/share/zoneinfo Database

    The /usr/share/zoneinfo files are made up of a set of directories, subdirectories and files that contain information about all the various time zones that Linux can be set to. These files come from the tz database, which is a collaborative compilation of information about the world's time zones, primarily intended for use with computer programs and operating systems. The tz database is also known as tzdata, the zoneinfo database, or IANA time zone database, and occasionally as the Olson database, referring to the founding contributor, Arthur David Olson. The database attempts to record historical time zones and all civil changes since 1970, the Unix time epoch. It includes transitions such as daylight saving time, and also records leap seconds.

    Looking at the directory that contains the US time zones we see that there is a file for every time time zone that is currently in effect in the US.

    pbmac@pbmac-server $ ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/US
    Alaska    Arizona  Eastern       Hawaii          Michigan  Pacific      Samoa
    Aleutian  Central  East-Indiana  Indiana-Starke  Mountain  Pacific-New

    Two Time Zone Files

    There are two files that contain time zone information on most Linux systems. There is the /etc/localtime, a symbolic link to the /usr/share/zoneinfo file, which is the actual zone information for each time zone as mentioned above. There is also the /etc/timezone file, which is a text file containing the location within the /usr/share/zoneinfo directory of the current time zone file. These two files should always be in sync, but some utilities only change one of the files, so if you are changing or setting the time zone, make sure that these files are synced and point to the same information.

    Adapted from:
    "tz database" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
    "Internationalization and localization" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
    "Localization" by Mutiple contributors, Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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