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On Ubuntu, to add a locale to the system, I would edit /var/lib/locales/supported.d/local, add the locale and then run dpkg-reconfigure locales.

I tried that on a Debian 5.0, but I discovered that locales wasn't installed, but instead I had belocs-locales-bin and belocs-locale-data. There was also a locales package, not installed, that, when I tried to install was in conflict with belocs, so I refrained.

I found out that to reconfigure locales, I had to edit /etc/locale.gen and run locale.gen.

I was wondering what's the difference between the two systems, and why there are two systems?

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I found the answer:

Getting locale changes into upstream glibc is unnecessarily hard. The glibc maintainer (correctly) requires proof of the correctness of a change before it's included, but the onus of demonstrating that change falls to the glibc package maintainers. The package maintainers are frequently not qualified to provide this proof, and cannot answer upstreams questions to the needed degree of satisfaction. The glibc upstream maintainer also has a well deserved reputation for being difficult to approach with changes.

For this reason, we should switch to the belocs locale packages, which are separate from glibc and more easily maintained.

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