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SubjectRE: kernel support for non-English user messages
Date
Hi Alan.

>> If we use 32-bit hash codes, there's a real chance of different
>> messages

> There are less than 65536 files each of which is less than 65536
> lines long, so it seems that a properly chosen automated index
> ought to be collision free ?

Some thoughts on that:

1. If the printk() messages are internationalised, we are going to
see log extracts posted here in various languages, including some
that the relevant maintainers don't understand. To stand any
realistic chance of dealing with the resultant bug reports, we
need to include the message code in the report so we can just
feed the various reports through a tool that translates them into
our preferred language.

2. For the above to work, we need the following guarantees:

a. A particular message code always refers to the same message.

b. A particular message is always referred to by the same
message code.

3. To obtain these guarantees, we need to ensure that the translation
tool supplied with any particular kernel can handle all message
codes from that kernel or from any earlier kernel in its direct
ancestry. We thus can't reuse message codes once issued.

4. In some languages, the parameters will need to be specified in a
different order to the English order.

5. We wish to keep the kernel size to a minimum.

The combination of the above points would lead me to suggest the
following design:

1. The printk() function must NEVER be on the RHS of any #define
statement. Many source files currently do this, and it kills any
hope of an automated tool going through the kernel sources and
allocating message numbers, irrespective of the numbering method
chosen.

2. Given the above, it would be possible to change the compilation
sequence such that the message indexing tool runs first and
pre-processes each printk() call to replace the format string with
an index into a table of message formats. This table would contain
in each row first the message code allocated to that row, then the
format string, and finally a key to the parameter order to be used.
The table generated would thus be the English language file, and
would be generated such that any existing messages therein were
reused. This would have the benefit that where any particular
message format occurs multiple times, they would be merged.

3. Given all of the above, a new printk() function would be written
to index into the table and pick out the relevant row, then to
produce a call to the current printk() function (renamed as
printk2() or whatever) with its parameters sorted into the order
specified by the final field in the table.

4. Where functions will be called prior to such internationalisations
being available, they would call the printk2() function directly,
and the message indexing tool would be designed to ignore such
calls when doing its parsing.

5. The next step of the compilation would process the files produced
by this tool rather than the original kernel sources.

This would then lead to the actual messages existing in a separate
directory in the kernel source tree with the `make *config` process
allowing one to select the appropriate language to be used, and
auto-indexing the available languages (not hard to do). The compilation
would then run a separate tool that created a *.h file with the relevant
version of the table for that particular compilation.

One detail that would need to be handled is this: If the selected
language file did not contain an entry for a particular message code,
the entry for that message code would need to be extracted from the
English language file. To help with translation, it should produce a
report stating which message codes it had to do that for.

Also, the table would want to be sorted by message number to speed up
access to the individual messages.

Best wishes from Riley.
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