[tz] Split America into North America and South America

Aurelien Jarno aurel32 at debian.org
Sat Jan 7 11:41:59 UTC 2023

On 2023-01-07 01:16, Benjamin Drung wrote:
> On Fri, 2023-01-06 at 13:28 -0800, Paul Eggert wrote:
> > I chose "America/" in the 1990s to keep names shorter and avoid worrying 
> > about borderline cases - e.g., should it be 
> > "North_America/Port_of_Spain" or "South_America/Port_of_Spain"?
> > 
> > Now that we've moved borderline cases like America/Curacao, 
> > America/Grenada, and America/Port_of_Spain to 'backward' the second 
> > justification has less force, at least until the southern Caribbean 
> > starts messing with its clocks. However, this also means America/* is 
> > less populated by unique entries identified by zone1970.tab.  Currently 
> > zone1970.tab lists 95 Zones directly under America and 75 under Asia, 
> > hardly the order-of-magnitude difference that might necessitate the 
> > disruption of a great renaming.
> > 
> > As Guy notes, users should not do 'ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/America' 
> > anyway; they should use a timezone chooser. Even the primitive chooser 
> > tzselect lists at most 54 names at once (all the countries in Asia, 
> > which as it happens outnumbers all the countries in North and South 
> > America combined). And commonly used timezone choosers let you point at 
> > a map, or figure things out from your location, or whatever. If we want 
> > to simplify timezone choosing we should be focusing our efforts there.
> tzselect was a nice pointer since it is a command line tool. Compared to
> the tzdata debconf it has three steps: continent -> country -> city. I
> consider changing the debconf structure to that as well.
> tzselect is using zone1970.tab and iso3166.tab to construct the
> questions? How is the mapping of continents -> countries generated?
> I am CCing Aurelien for his opinion.

The introduction of debconf dates for ages ago, so it's difficult to
remember the details. The context was not so long after the China/Tawain
issue in Debian, which affected many persons in Debian, so I think that
we actually tried to avoid mapping cities to countries, at least in a
visible way (the zone1970.tab is still shipped). It somehow matches what
upstream tzdata is doing, quoting theory.html:
- "Be robust in the presence of political changes"
- "There is no requirement that every country or national capital must
  have a timezone name."

With the current status quo, we more or less have at least one city per
country, so people are happy to see the cities of their country
available, but they can't complain that it is listed on the wrong place.


Aurelien Jarno                          GPG: 4096R/1DDD8C9B
aurelien at aurel32.net                 http://www.aurel32.net

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