Aistriúchán Gaeilge GNU/Linux:
How to Help

Introduction

The goal of this project is to create a free computing system entirely in the Irish language. So far we've translated Mozilla Firefox (web browser), Mozilla Thunderbird (email handler), KDE (complete desktop system), OpenOffice.org (office suite), and much much more.

In practice, "free" means that you're able to download and use our software for free (i.e. no cost). More importantly, it means that the software is free as in "free speech" or as in "freedom". In other words, you can do whatever you want with the software: view and change the source code, modify our translations to your liking, or even put it on a CD, give it away, or sell it. The only rule is that the existing license be preserved, which guarantees that others share these same freedoms.

This is a powerful approach to developing software for languages with limited resources, like Irish. This is evidenced by the fact that there are free translation projects underway for almost 100 languages, 5 times the number of languages that are available for Microsoft Windows. Even in the rare instances that Microsoft has released products in minority languages, they do so in order to lock computer users into their proprietary solutions. In contrast, free software is "owned" by those who produce it, in this case, by the Irish speaking community.

Séamus Ó Ciardhuáin and I have written an article about the advantages of free software for minority language localization, and which discusses some of the software tools we use for maintaining and verifying the Irish translations. Read it here.


Help Wanted!

The volunteers who work on this project come from all over the world; some are native Irish speakers and work primarily on translation, while others speak very little Irish at all, and provide other kinds of support instead.

Here are some ways you can help:


Getting started with translation

Translating open source software is very easy. Here's how to get started.

  1. Decide which product(s) you'd like to work on. Mozilla Firefox is complete, and Thunderbird is close also. But substantial work is needed on just about everything else. If you've never used any free software packages and you're not sure, that's OK too; I can direct you to where help is most needed.
  2. Send me an email (kscanne at gmail dot com). I'm managing the technical aspects of all of the ongoing projects (and do a lot of the translating too).
  3. Download and install the latest version of poedit. Translations of all free software packages can be stored in a special file format called a PO file. POEdit is a specialized editor that is used to translate PO files.
  4. Once you have POEdit installed and running, I'll send you a PO file to translate. If you're using a Windows computer, simply save the PO file to your desktop and then double click it; POEdit should start. Each string is shown on a single line, English on the left and the translation on the right. Untranslated strings are highlighted in blue. Click a string you'd like to translate, and then type the translation into the box at the very bottom of the window. When you're done, click the next string and proceed.
  5. When the file is completed, email it back to me and I'll incorporate it into the finished product. Then I'll send more strings to work on.

Translation: nuts and bolts

Every package has it's own conventions for handling things like variables ("Do you want to delete %s"), keyboard shortcuts, and plural forms ("1 file" vs. "%n files"). Here are some tips:


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