Language Support

From DSL Wiki

   This page in other languages: EspaƱol


Generic localization procedures

Booting with option "dsl lang=xx"

This will invoke specific keyboard settings, if available.

  • In the new version of DSL (3.1), it is possible to invoke a German keyboard layout with Umlauts by choosing the boot option dsl lang=de-latin1-nodeadkeys. Worked very well for me, while working from a USB-pen-drive.
  • With "lang=fr" it seems to be similar. It's a French AZERTY-keyboard afterwards. Only the accents and special characters are missing.
  • ...etc


You can set your X defaults with The last setting is the keyboard. It is also available in the desktop menus.

Patching a .dsl-file

If you use 7-zip you can easily open the directory-tree of the Brazilian version ptbr.dsl. There you can find and extract all files that are to be changed.

Please try to coordinate who is working on which language that there is no double work done by adding your name after the language TLD-code:

  • de:
  • fr:
  • es:
  • ...etc

Discussion should be done in the forum.

DSL and Unicode

While the core bits of DSL are capable of handling files in Unicode encodings, most of the included apps cannot. This is either because they are tiny apps by nature and don't support Unicode (aterm, beaver) or they have been compiled without Unicode/multibyte support for space reasons (vim). If you want to use and display characters outside of the range included in the latin-1 encoding, you will generally need to install DSL extensions or compile your own apps which can handle the display and manipulation of your character set. DSL does include various point sizes of the X-font, -misc-fixed-..., which includes a surprising array of unicode ranges, but is a fixed-width font, and won't be suitable for some uses. And anyway, you've got to get an app to *display* it in. So everything hangs on the apps you want to use. Try them out individually.

Translating DSL?

An informative post on what steps are needed to localize DSL is here

Language-Specific Resources

Portuguese (brasilian)

For Portuguese Language (Brazilian variation) there is a .dsl-file available.


A cnpack.dsl for Chinese can be found here:

A traditional Chinese version DSL (support simplified Chinese too) created in 2005 can be found here and there's a tutorialon how to add other input methods (include simplified Chinese input methods) into its gcin input method.

In Chinese language characters are not shown correctly. It seems to be a character set problem ...

To browse Chinese web sites with firefox, just run these lines with dsl account:

   chmod +x

tested with dsl3.4.4 and dsl4.0 in qemu

and there is an online Chinese input tool.

the cnpack.tar.gz no longer exists. For some reason, when is executed, an extra \r is added to the wget and caused the failed to execute. You can cat and type in those commands manually and it works.

dsl@box:~$ ./

No such file or directorydsl


          => `cnpack.tar.gz%0D'

Resolving Connecting to[]:80... connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 400 Bad Request 16:12:49 ERROR 400: Bad Request.

No such file or directory

tar (child): home/dsl/cnpack.tar.gz\r: Cannot open: No such file or directory tar (child): Error is not recoverable: exiting now tar: Child returned status 2 tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors chown: failed to get attributes of `/home/dsl/.mozilla\r': No such file or directory


  • Text editing using polytonic Greek in gvim, (using a self-compiled version including +multibyte support),

Using vim's own keymap support (greek-utf_8) for input, and the font "misc (fixed)", also called -misc-fixed-... for display. This works great, but you must compile your own vim, since none of the vim_full extensions contain multi-byte support. Do this within vim to get off the ground:

      :set encoding=utf-8

All of this works because gvim itself has good features for handling non-latin languages, and already includes its own input methods. Your app may vary.

  • Standard X-window middle mouse button copy-paste works fine.
  • Some standard unix command-line text operations need the full GNU tools to work well with unicode text. Busybox seems not to play well with text files in the UTF-8 encoding.
  • Firefox seems to display utf-8 Greek fine.
  • The Open Office DSL extension works well to display, manipulate and print unicode Greek, but typing it in is a different issue.
  • I tried compiling rxvt as a substitute for DSL's standard aterm. Compiling was easy, and I could *display* greek on the terminal, but had no luck getting vim to work on it in non-GUI mode. Perhaps a $TERM problem.


Text editing using vocalized Hebrew works in gvim, using vim's own keymap for entry, and vim's Left-to-Right support. Again, using the -misc-fixed- font for display. Note that writing bi-directional text in vim is fully functional, but not pretty, since you always have to display the file using either RTL or LTR.


After some modifications DSL can input russian letters from keyboard and display them on screen both in console mode and in X. Modifications include generation of russian locale, addition of fonts and some adjustment of scripts. Modifications are described here.


There's a forum thread explaining some tricks for spanish.

Check also the translation into spanish of this page.