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Network installation of Irish and other Celtic language user interface localisations on Microsoft Windows domain workstations

Author: Mícheál Mac Lochlainn, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh.

Published 31st August 2013.

Updated 18th October 2013.

Keywords

Irish, Gaelic, Scottish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Celtic, localisation, globalisation, translation, internationalisation, language, Microsoft, Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, Language Interface Pack, Multiple User Interface.

Introduction

This article on installing Microsoft localisation packages in network environments is fairly self-contained. If you're not familiar with the subject of user interface localisation though, it might be helpful to read some background information first.

Non-techies welcome

Although technical enough, the article is hopefully still accessible enough to non-techies who work in multilingual environments or who just want to learn more about this kind of localisation. (This is why there are quite a few explanations and desciptions that no competent techie would ever need.)

Celtic languages and software localisation

Insular Celtic language (ref) localisations of many software products, both commercial and free, have been available for some years; these languages are the Goidelic languages (ref) of Irish (ref), Scottish Gaelic (ref) and Manx (ref), and the Brythonic languages (ref) of Welsh (ref), Cornish (ref) and Breton (ref). Microsoft Corporation has a mature, ongoing multi-national localisation programme (ref) for its software products, which include Windows (an operating system), Internet Explorer (a Web browser) and Office (productivity tools: Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc...). As part of this programme, localisation packages are available, in the form of free downloads, that render the user interface of some versions of these products in Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh (see these screenshots.) There are no similar localisation packages available for Manx, Cornish or Breton at the moment.

Installing software in network environments

Although there's no scarcity of information on how to install these packages, the emphasis seems to be on deployment to individual computers. The one-at-a-time approach to software installation is fine for home use and in one- or two-computer small businesses but it means wasteful repetition of effort and more or less guarantees inconsistency, so it is not remotely acceptable in workplaces where groups of computers (more than half a dozen, say) are connected together on a network.

Preferred practice in network environments is to provision a special computer, called a server, to centrally manage software deployment to workstation PCs, which are referred to as clients. In environments based on Windows technologies this group of associated servers and clients is called a 'domain'.

The server/client terminology can be slightly misleading to non-techies though because with this model, certain types of server have control of their clients and force them to do their bidding. In these cases the old engineering model of master/slave might describe things more accurately.

Central management of Windows domains is done using a software facility, built into server versions of Windows, called Active Directory. This runs on a special kind of server, called a 'domain controller'. The IT departments of businesses and educational institutions that have large numbers of Windows workstations are extremely likely (ref) to be using Active Directory to manage them.

Installing Irish and other Celtic language localisations in network environments

This article describes a method for installing Microsoft's Irish and other Celtic language user interface localisations in the kinds of network commonly found in SMB environments (typically, 50 to 250 workstations; although the method is perfectly suitable for networks of less than 50 machines). This method would allow the systems administrator to automate the centralised installation of Celtic language localisation packages to workstations.

Once the packages are installed, network users have the freedom to set any one of these languages as their UI language and even to hop between them whenever they like, provided there are no wider network lockdowns in place to stop them.

(The method described in this article might be of use where corporate or institutional policy requires that users' workstations be restricted to a single UI language.)

Existing tools and resources

There are all sorts of third-party enterprise-grade power tools available to manage Windows networks. But these usually cost a bob or two and can be overkill for small networks. This method is based entirely on existing Microsoft Windows Server tools and resources, and will probably scale-up well enough for larger networks. It is designed to be frugal, simple and self-contained, and to draw no cost other than a relatively small amount of the sysadmin's time. Other than initial deployment and testing it is essentially a fit and forget job.

Of course, there are other ways to centrally deploy localisation packages using Windows tools only. For example, systems administrators who use WDS can just install them on their reference machines and bake them into their images. But that approach might not suit sys admins who like to keep their images lean and mean. And it is only useful for new installations. The method documented in this article can be used on new and existing workstations.

Spell- and grammar checking

This article isn't directly concerned with the deployment of tools like spelling and grammar checkers because they don't actually localise any user interfaces and so they're really outside its terms of reference. But if you're looking for information on Celtic language document proofing tools for Microsoft Office though, this brief discussion of them might be helpful.

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