This is the GNU gettext package. It is interesting for authors or
maintainers of other packages or programs which they want to see
internationalized. As one step the handling of messages in different
languages should be implemented. For this task GNU gettext provides
the needed tools and library functions.
Users of GNU packages should also install GNU gettext because some
other GNU packages will use the gettext program included in this
package to internationalize the messages given by shell scripts.
Another good reason to install GNU gettext is to make sure the
here included functions compile ok. This helps to prevent errors
when installing other packages which use this library. The message
handling functions are not yet part of POSIX and ISO/IEC standards
and therefore it is not possible to rely on facts about their
implementation in the local C library. If the installer selects
it, GNU gettext tries using the systems functionality; in that
case, compatibility problems might occur.
We felt that the Uniforum proposals has the much more flexible interface
and, what is more important, does not burden the programmers as much as
the other possibility does.
Please share your results with us. If this package compiles ok for
you future GNU release will likely also not fail, at least for reasons
found in message handling. Send comments and bug reports to
The goal of this library was to give a unique interface to message
handling functions. At least the same level of importance was to give
the programmer/maintainer the needed tools to maintain the message
catalogs. The interface is designed after the proposals of the
Uniforum group. So systems having this interface implemented in their
C library don't need the library provided here (and it will
automatically not be included). If your systems C library implements
the second widely available approach (X/Opens catgets) the library
can use this and only some stubs will be compiled to provide the
needed interface. If neither is locally available a full
implementation of the library will be compiled.
The configure script provides three non-standard options. These will
also be available in other packages if they use the functionality of
GNU gettext. Use
if you absolutely don't want to have messages handling code. You will
always get the original messages (mostly English). You could consider
using NLS support even when you do not need other tongues. If you do
not install any messages catalogs or do not specify to use another but
the C locale you will not get translations.
The set of languages for which catalogs should be installed can also be
specified while configuring. Of course they must be available but the
intersection of these two sets are computed automatically. You could
once and for all define in your profile/cshrc the variable LINGUAS:
(Bourne Shell) LINGUAS="de fr nl"; export LINGUAS
(C Shell) setenv LINGUAS "de fr nl"
or specify it directly while configuring
env LINGUAS="de fr nl" ./configure
Consult the manual for more information on language names.
The second configure option is
This forces to use the GNU implementing the message handling library
regardless what the local C library provides. This possibility is
much less error prone because possible unreliable effects of the local
message handling system are avoided. And perhaps more important: many
useful features can only be exploited with this library. The reason
is obvious: we cannot dig in the internals of other implementations.
It is likely that the discrepancy between the GNU implementation and
others will get bigger in the time coming. So better change now!
The third option is:
The X/Open catgets functions which might be found in the local C
library are not used by default. The reason is already described
above: the GNU gettext library provides many useful extension which
cannot be emulated with catgets(). Beside this the utility programs
for generating the catalog used by catgets() vary heavily between
different systems. You should select this feature only if you really
don't want to use the GNU gettext library and do not want to extended
functionality (but I do not see any good reason for such a choice).
Other files you might look into:
`ABOUT-NLS' - current state of the GNU internationalization effort
`COPYING' - copying conditions
`INSTALL' - general compilation and installation rules
`NEWS' - major changes in the current version
`THANKS' - list of contributors
Some points you might be interested in before installing the package:
1. If you change any of the files in package the Makefile rules will
schedule a recompution of the gettext.pot file. But this is not
possible without this package already installed.
If you don't have this package already installed and modified
any of the files build the package first with
When this is done you will get a runnable xgettext program which
can be used to recompute gettext.pot.
2. The package contains a file misc/magic.add. This is intended to be
added to your /etc/magic file. After adding this the `file' command
will recognize GNU message catalog files (.mo files).
3. If your system's C library already provides the gettext interface
it might be a good idea to configure the package with
Systems affected by this are:
Solaris 2.x, future GNU and GNU/Linux systems
One point to mention here is that at least Solaris 2.3 does not have
all function of the Uniforum proposal implement. More specific, the
dcgettext() function is missing. For programmers/maintainers it
is therefore nowaday better to avoid using this function.
4. Some system have a very dumb^H^H^H^Hstrange version of msgfmt, the
one which comes with xview. This one is *not* usable. It's best
you delete^H^H^H^H^H^Hrename it or install this package as in the
point above with
5. On some system it is better to have strings aligned (I've been told
Sparcs like strings aligned to 8 byte boundaries). If you want to
have the output of msgfmt aligned you can use the -a option. But you
also could change the default value to be different from 1. Take
a look at the config.h file, built by configure.
(If you change the default value the test of msgfmt will fail!)
6. The locale name alias scheme implemented here is in a similar form
implemented in the X Window System. Especially the alias data base
file can be shared. Normally this file is found at something like
If you have the X Window System installed try to find this file and
specify the path at the make run:
(or whatever is appropriate for you). The file name is always
In the misc/ subdirectory you find an example for an alias database file.
7. The msgmerge program performs fuzzy search in the message sets. It
might run a long time on slow systems. I saw this problem when running
it on my old i386DX25. The time can really be several minutes,
especially if you have long messages and/or a great number of
If you have a faster implementation of the fstrcmp() function and
want to share it with the rest of use, please contact me.
8. On some systems it will not be possible to compile this package.
It is not only this package but any other GNU package, too. These
systems do not provide the simplest functionality to run configure.
Today are known the following systems:
configure name description
mips-mips-riscos 2.1.1AC RISCos