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This spec describes what needs to be done to get translated package descriptions in apt.


The current apt does only support package descriptions in a single language. This is english currently. A more flexible mechanism is required to show the translations in the locale the user is using.

Use cases

  • Anne can't speak english at all but would still like to know more about the applications on the system. Currently gnome-app-install displays only a localized short description, the long description is in english.
  • Peter speaks english, but prefers his own language because his english skills are not that good. He is a power-user otherwise and uses aptitude regularly. He would like to see the package descriptions in his locale language.
  • Paul is using the default package set and is happy with it. He uses update-manager to update his system regularly and sometimes wonders what the packages he updates are all about. He would like to see the description for them in his locale because he does not speak english.


  • apt needs to be extended to support "Translation" files for the package descriptions.
  • The archive server needs to carry these translation file.
  • Tools to convert the Translation files to and from Rosetta needs to be written.
  • Sharing our translation data with the debian project should be possible.


The Translation-$LANG file carries the following information per package:

Package: <package-name>
Description-md5: <the md5 checksum of the english description>
Description-$lang.$encoding: <translated headline>
 <translated section>


Testcode is in debian/experimental for both apt, synaptic and python-apt.

Outstanding issues

The code in debian/experimental needs testing, it's a pretty big change.

BoF agenda and discussion


TranslatedPackageDescriptionsSpec (last edited 2008-08-06 16:35:23 by localhost)