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Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2022 10:16:12 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
To: "A. Wilcox" <>
Subject: Re: Default binding directory for gettext

On Thu, Dec 01, 2022 at 11:31:32PM -0600, A. Wilcox wrote:
> Hi,
> While updating the package ‘cracklib’ for Adélie Linux, I found it does
> not give localised messages, because it does not call bindtextdomain(3),
> only textdomain(3).  This does work on glibc and GNU gettext as a
> library, which use /usr/share/locale as a default binding.
> Is it intentional that there is no default binding for gettext?  I
> believe the GNU implementation is meant to be canonical for behaviour of
> gettext, and this seems to not match.  From
> emphasis mine:
> > The directory name given in bindtextdomains second argument **(or the
> default directory)**, followed by the name of the locale, the locale
> category, and the domain name are concatenated
> Since this technically isn’t portable when the software is installed in
> a different $PREFIX, I did open
>, so this should be fixed in
> a future release of the package.  Still, I wasn’t sure if this musl
> behaviour was desired or not.  My personal feeling is that both are
> wrong; bindtextdomain is needed in the case of non-standard PREFIX, but
> musl should have a default fallback path for packages that elide the
> call.
> Best,
> -A.

I don't remember the details, and this could be subject to
reconsideration in the upcoming locale overhaul, but I think it was
intentional. I seem to recall we found that pretty much all real-world
packages call bindtextdomain (and the docs/i18n guides tell you to do
this) to select a path appropriate to the build-time-chosen install
location or a configured location.

>From the musl side, we really try to avoid having libc introduce
hard-coded absolute path locations that aren't an existing
widely-known-to-users convention (like POSIX-specified /dev/null or de
facto universal things like /etc/resolv.conf). In the case of glibc, I
would assume it's using a default based off of glibc's --prefix, which
would make this even more of a mess if we copied that: when users
installed musl to a non-system-wide prefix, they'd end up getting that
prefix embedded into static linked binaries they make, which might
even be a privacy leak. Of course we could opt not to do that and just
hard-code /usr/share/locale, but I'm doubtful that this is a behavior
that makes sense.


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