[OLPC-devel] Scaling and localization in package management

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Tue Mar 14 19:56:58 EST 2006

I think serious consideration of scale due to languages is needed, and
that it will have serious effects on how we do packaging and

I'm intending to blog on the following topic in a bit more detail:

According to Ethnologue, there are 347 languages with > 1,000,000
speakers.  We already see some Linux localizations for languages with
less than 1 million speakers.  There are thousands of active languages.
See http://www.ethnologue.org/ for lots of data.

Now, take the cross product of the number of languages, the number of
applications, and the number of releases of applications and of base
distro's that may need some customization.

You get a staggeringly large number.

And we can't solve this problem by putting all localization in with the
software; the localization would take much more space than the typical

And localization better not have to be tied to a particular software
release; there is no way we'll be able to synchronize at that scale.

And remember: we need to be able to teach languages too: so expect
multiple languages will need to be installed simultaneously.

So here's a problem that needs some more serious thought, and I believe
to which our current solutions don't scale.  We might survive next year
(only 20 languages, is the estimate) on our current methodology in open
source, but the year after, it really gets interesting ;-).
					- Jim

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