debconf-gettextize - Man Page

extract translations of debconf templates into PO files


debconf-gettextize [-v] [-h] [--podir=DIR] [--choices] [--merge] master [master ...]


The /var/lib/dpkg/info/*.templates files read by debconf contain English text and translations in the same file.  But in source packages, translations are managed in separate files to help translators.  In the initial implementation, a master templates file contained only English text, and templates.xx files contained both original and translated strings for the language xx.  The debconf-mergetemplate program was merging master and translated templates files.

The new implementation with po-debconf is based on gettext.  Maintainers mark translatable fields by prepending them with an underscore, English strings are automatically extracted into a POT file, translators work on normal PO files, and po2debconf generates a merged templates file with the same structure.

The debconf-gettextize program was initially designed to help migrating to the new implementation.

Typically the debconf-gettextize program must be run only once when transforming from the first implementation to the po-debconf format, but it can also be used afterwards to transform a _Choices field into __Choices (or vice-versa) without losing translations, when using the --merge flag (alongside with --choices or not). The desired template containing the _Choices or __Choices fields to modify has to be copied into a temporary template file, which is passed  to debconf-gettextize as an argument. Then the following steps are performed:

  1. po2debconf is run on this template file to generate a translated templates file.
  2. This translated templates file is processed as described above and PO files are generated.
  3. Newly created PO files are merged with existing ones.

When PO files are merged, _Choices fields have to be replaced by __Choices (or vice-versa) in the original templates file before running debconf-updatepo, otherwise new translations will be fuzzy.


-h,  --help

Display a usage summary for the program and exit.

-v,  --verbose

Process in verbose mode.


Set directory for PO files.  Default is to search for PO files in the po subdirectory below the location of the first master file.


By default, debconf-gettextize replaces Choices fields by _Choices.  With this flag, __Choices fields are written instead.


When this flag is set, the strings are merged with existing PO files. The templates files and po/ are not modified.


The Default field is special when template type is Select or Multiselect, because a value has to be chosen amongst the English list of choices, even for localized values.  Normally this field must not be changed, but in rare circumstances localized values are meaningful (e.g. to choose the default language of an application). In order to let translators know that this localized Default field is special, you must by convention call it _DefaultChoice instead of _Default.

See Also

debconf-updatepo(1), po2debconf(1), debconf-devel(7), po-debconf(7).


  Denis Barbier <>
  Martin Quinson <>

Referenced By

debconf-devel(7), debconf-updatepo(1), po2debconf(1).

2024-01-25 po-debconf