Robert describes how to generate PDF files from GNOME documentation source files.

We describe here how to manually generate PDF files from translated documentation.

The relevant gnome-doc-utils files for documentation generation is at As far as I understand from reading the makefile, there is no support yet to build PDFs out of localised documentation.

Let’s assume we want to generate PDF documentation for the GNOME 2 User Guide, for the Greek language.

1. We clone the relevant repository

$ git clone git://

2. Then,

cd gnome-user-docs/gnome2-user-guide/

and now generate the equivalent XML files found in C/ with the localisation for the Greek language (found in el/),

\ls C/*.xml | perl -n -e 'chop; $a=$_; print "xml2po -p el/el.po $a > el/`basename $a`\n"' | sh

3. Let’s see what we created,

$ ls el/
el.po    glossary.xml  goscustdesk.xml      
gosfeedback.xml  gosoverview.xml  gosstartsession.xml  
legal.xml  figures  gosbasic.xml  goseditmainmenu.xml  
gosnautilus.xml  gospanel.xml     gostools.xml         
$ _

The main file is user-guide.xml, which references the rest of the XML files.

4. One additional step I like to do is convert all those individual .xml in a single big XML file just before performing the conversion to PDF. This helps to figure out any markup mistakes that could have been caused during the translation.

cd el/
xmllint --noent user-guide.xml --output documentation-user-guide.xml

This step does not have the desired effect with the XML in the user-guide because the include files are referenced with “<include xmlns=”” href=”gosbasic.xml”/>” rather than the “&gosbasic;” which “xmllint –noent” appears to like. Other GNOME documentation use the latter style. Lazyweb, any tips so that xmllint can create a single big fat XML file?

4. You may want to manually populate the figures/ directory. That is, copy any C/figures/* files that are not present in your LL/figures/ directory.

5. In order to create PDF files in NON-iso-8859-1, we need to use the xetex backend,

dblatex --backend=xetex --verbose documentation-user-guide.xml

If all go well, you are greeted with a documentation-user-guide.pdf document.

Two things may go wrong here; there is either an invalid construct in the XML file or you have stumbled on a XeTex bug for your language.

For the Greek language there is a known bug and a workaround for XeTex.

Here is the GNOME2 User Guide (PDF) for

  1. Greek (bit messy hyphenation due to workaround), and
  2. Russian.

I also tried the user-guide with

Chinese: Fails to compile, encoding problem or most probably limitation in XeTeX.

Thai: Compiles just fine but no Thai font is available. How do you add fonts to XeTeX?

Punjabi: Compiles just fine but no Hindi font is available. How do you add fonts to XeTeX?