desktop-entry: make Icon field non-translatable?

Simon Lees sflees at
Mon Sep 10 02:30:55 UTC 2018

On 10/09/2018 11:33, Matthias Klumpp wrote:
> Am Mo., 10. Sep. 2018 um 03:09 Uhr schrieb Jeremy Bicha <jbicha at>:
>> Originally, the desktop-entry-spec set the Icon field as "string". It
>> was changed in 2006 to "localestring" which means it is translatable.
>> Recently in GNOME, many projects have switched from intltool to
>> gettext. gettext treats the Icon field as a translatable string
>> without a way for projects to disable that. In GNOME, we include a
>> comment to warn translators not to translate the Icon field but
>> translators sometimes don't see the comment. That causes breakage
>> because no one is providing translated icons here.
>> Could we please change the Icon field back to "string"?
> I just did a quick search whether the localization feature is actually
> used much using Debian's package archive[1] and I only found two cases
> which look like mistakes (the referenced icon did not exist).
> I also wonder whether this feature is implemented in all desktop environments...
> This issue looks more like a gettext issue than a specification issue
> to me though. It should be changed to not consider the Icon field -
> the field is not supposed to be translated by translation teams,
> rather designers may specifically add a locale specific icon manually
> if they designed it for the respective application.
> So, IMHO this issue should be treated separately from any spec change.

The way translation tools generally work is they don't have blacklists
of strings not to translate but they pick out every string marked for
translation, in this case i'm assuming gettext is presuming that
everything of type "localestring" should be translated then things that
are just normal "string" are not.

Without knowing why it was changed in 2006, changing it back makes sense
to me, there could be weird cornercases where some icons in some icon
sets include text and the designer may want to do different icons for
different languages but I doubt anyone is well setup to do that
consistently anywhere at the moment.


Simon Lees (Simotek)                  

Emergency Update Team                 
SUSE Linux                           Adelaide Australia, UTC+10:30
GPG Fingerprint: 5B87 DB9D 88DC F606 E489 CEC5 0922 C246 02F0 014B

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