Custom regional formats

Bug #1024663 reported by David Nemeskey on 2012-07-14
This bug affects 6 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Won't Fix
Indicator Date and Time
In Progress
Gunnar Hjalmarsson
coreutils (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Regional formats should be customizable. Currently the user is capable of selecting a locale, and that locale will determine how dates are displayed, the first day of the week, etc. However, it is not possible to override any of these choices -- it's a 'take it or leave it' decision. There are several problems with that:

1. If the system language is English, and I set the RF to Hungarian, the names of months, days will be Hungarian, while the rest of the interface remains English, which is confusing.

2. RF settings apply to the command line too; once again, introducing a different date format, names of days and months, which may cause scripts to stop working. That may be a problem for developers (or for users who download scripts from a developer's page, which, with smartphones, Calibre, etc., is not so uncommon as someone might think). The settings for the GUI and the command line should be distinct.

3. Very often one would like to change just one setting (A4 paper size for printing, Monday as the first day of the week, etc.), which is currently not possible.

I understand there was a similar bug, number 40669. However, the fix only added the Regional Formats tab, and ignored part of the problem of the reporter: "it's impossible to configure a system that uses English GUI strings and the rest in native format."

This functionality has been available in Windows and KDE forever. Ubuntu has parted ways with Gnome with regard to the DE, and it would be very welcome if we could also say goodbye to the Gnome mindset and actually give some power to the user. After all, even smartphones, which are definitely consumer devices, allow this type of customization.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 12.04
Package: language-selector-gnome 0.79
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.2.0-27.43-generic 3.2.21
Uname: Linux 3.2.0-27-generic i686
ApportVersion: 2.0.1-0ubuntu11
Architecture: i386
Date: Sat Jul 14 11:32:04 2012
ExecutablePath: /usr/bin/gnome-language-selector
InstallationMedia: Kubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" - Release i386 (20111012)
InterpreterPath: /usr/bin/python2.7
PackageArchitecture: all
SourcePackage: language-selector
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to precise on 2012-05-03 (71 days ago)

Related branches

David Nemeskey (nemeskeyd) wrote :
Gunnar Hjalmarsson (gunnarhj) wrote :

Please note that Language Support Help provides some related guidance:

  yelp ghelp:language-selector#format-advanced

Gunnar Hjalmarsson (gunnarhj) wrote :

Hi David,
Thanks for your effort to make Ubuntu better by submitting this bug!

As regards your first item, I'm currently trying to address it in other ways than changing language-selector. Your comment on would be appreciated. It might make a difference, actually.

I'm not sure about your second item. Programmers should be aware that the output from e.g. the date() command is affected by the locale environment.

$ env | grep LC_TIME
$ date
ons 28 nov+ 2012 09.50.+14 CET
$ LC_TIME= date
Wed Nov 28 09:50:22 CET 2012

Still adding a coreutils task to this bug, which carries /bin/date.

As for the first example in you third item, it is possible to set the paper size separately, since there is a separate LC_PAPER locale category. The line

export LC_PAPER="hu_HU.UTF-8"

in ~/.profile should do it. Setting only the first day of the week is not possible, though, since all the date and time related format aspects are controlled by one single locale category, i.e. LC_TIME. Implementing such a customization possibility would be quite a significant change. In Ubuntu 13.04 or 13.10 language-selector will be replaced by the GNOME UI for setting language and locales, so such a change won't happen in language-selector. If you consider it important enough, I would recommend that you submit a separate bug; a GNOME bug would be best:

Changed in language-selector (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in glib:
importance: Unknown → Medium
status: Unknown → New
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in coreutils (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

I don't think this is a coreutils bug - the core utilities are locale-sensitive by design, and this is not Ubuntu-specific. Scripts should override the locale to C where necessary if they need to parse what would normally be human-readable output.

Changed in coreutils (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Won't Fix
Changed in glib:
status: New → Won't Fix
affects: language-selector (Ubuntu) → indicator-datetime
Changed in indicator-datetime:
assignee: nobody → Gunnar Hjalmarsson (gunnarhj)
status: Confirmed → In Progress
Gunnar Hjalmarsson (gunnarhj) wrote :

Please see for an update on "the days and months-issue".

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