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I use ubuntu 11.10 with Unity/GNOME 3 and I want to make the Metric System the default. Is there a United States Metric System format? in Ubuntu in the System Settings under keyboard layouts there is Format but I see no way to change it to Metric, with out changing from United States.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

While it is possible to create new locale data, it is a fair bit of work. You can however select different locales for different uses through the various LC_* environment variables (this is what the Language Settings control panel does when you choose a different language). This may be enough for what you want.

The locale man page provides some details of the various locale categories (see the Environment Variables section). Some variables you might be interested in include:

  • LC_MEASUREMENT - Measurement units (Metric or Other).
  • LC_PAPER - Paper size.
  • LC_NUMERIC - Non-monetary numeric formats. I'm not sure whether this one would be relevant though, since I don't think there is much difference in the way US writes their numbers.

If you want to change any of these, I would suggest doing it by editing ~/.profile and adding a line like:

export LC_XXX="YYY"

Since that is how the current language selector stores its preferences.

Setting any of these environment variables to a locale that uses metric measurements (e.g. en_AU.utf-8 or en_NZ.utf-8) should help change the defaults various applications use.

There will probably still be a few applications that default to US measurement formats though, since I've seen a few that effectively use LC_MESSAGES to pick units (usually by attempting to translate a special string and rely on the translator to translate it in a way that indicates the desired units). For those you'll either have to live with the US default, or change the messages locale to something else (which will probably have the side effect of switching to British English).

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Well is my believe that is not really a Unity/GNOME3 than a standardization way which as Wikipedia mentions:

SI is the world's most widely used system of measurement, which is used both in everyday commerce and in science. The system has been nearly globally adopted with the United States being the only industrialized nation that does not mainly use the metric system in its commercial and standards activities. The United Kingdom has officially partially adopted metrication, with no intention of replacing imperial units entirely. Canada has adopted it for all legal purposes but imperial/US units are still in common use, particularly in the buildings trade.

As it looks the last countries that use Imperial Unit are slowly converting to the INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM but somehow some of them still grab onto the idea of establishing the Imperial System as the universal one. (More than 150 countries versus less than 5 is not really universal). Anyway I find it easier to go from Meter to Kilometer than going from Inches to Yards to Miles. I know 1000 Meters are a Kilometer and I know 1 Meter is 100cm. I would crazy trying to do that with inches, yards and miles. Same goes for pounds and other Imperial measurements.

So to answer, Ubuntu and maybe others, by default, are following the standards for each country. There might be a way to change this I do not know but Ubuntu has stored what system each country available for it uses and it tries to satisfy that countries system the best way it can.

This is just an answer as to why they might not show an option for it. But maybe an Ubuntu dev can say the reasons as to why this is the way it is.

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