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LangTran software distribution system

Info updated: 2023-11-14
Average: 4 (15 votes)


LangTran is a software distribution system.

It provides a single point where language workers can easily download the latest installers for many programs, utilities & associated resources, to have them with them when they go to an area with poor, expensive or unreliable internet coverage, or none at all.

Here's the scenario. You are in the village and you discover a problem with your data in the dictionary program. You use your satellite phone or web stick connected to the mobile network to ask colleagues for help, and hear

"The latest version of the software fixes that problem. You did update before you left town, didn't you?"

"Well, sorry, no, I didn't. I was in such a rush getting everything done that I forgot to check for an update."

If you join LangTran, you can run a simple script overnight before you leave the good connection, and it will update all the installers for the programs relevant to your kind of work. Then you'll have them with you, in case the old version proves inadequate while you are in the remote area. (By default, these will come to a folder on your computer, but you could get them to come to a thumb drive if you want to.)

Or you may hear that program X does a much better job of helping in your current task than what you are using at present. You don't have to wait till you get back to town to download it -- you have program X in your LangTranLocal folder already.

What if you rarely have access to a good internet connection? The LangTran system provides a network drive from which you can download just the installer that you want, without having to also download several web pages along the way. So you won't have to download images, advertisements and browser toolbars and similar "useful" additions to the downloads. To access this, click this link. You'll see a list of folders where the programs are, and a file called LangTranFiles.txt, which lists them all. Hold down the Shift  and Ctrl/Command keys together and click that file to open it in a new tab in your browser. Search (Ctrl-F in many browsers, or command-F on a Mac) for the file you want, and look back up to find the folder it is in. In the other tab, navigate to that folder, then right-click the file and select Save Link As to download it.

In situations where language workers meet at a centre now and then, a computer support person can run the LangTran updater each day, in the small hours of the morning or whenever the internet works best, and mirror the LangTran repository to a local computer. Then the language workers can update their personal LangTranLocal folders free of charge using the LAN.

We provide two methods for getting the updates from our server:

  1. If you have a good internet connection when you are "in town", you can use Resilio Sync (which used to be called BitTorrent Sync). This will notice whenever a new version of an installer appears on our central server, and download it into your LangTranLocal folder. Using Resilio Sync will also seed the files to other users, so you would not want to use this on a metered connection. (Individuals are allowed to use the basic version of Resilio Sync free of charge, but institutions need to pay. BitTorrent Sync is free for all users. Follow the steps below to get BitTorrent Sync for your platform.)
  2. If your internet connection only works well at certain times, such as at night, you can run a script at that time, which will connect to our central server and download any installers that have changed since the last time you ran the script. We call this the LangTranUpdate method.

Starting to use LangTran:

if you are an ordinary user:

  1. Download LangTran_diagram.pdf and look it over, to get an overview of how the system works.
  2. Download 1_LangTran_setup.pdf and read through that document and decide whether you want to use the LangTranUpdate method or the BitTorrent Sync method.
  3. Download 2_LT_Update_setup.pdf or 2_LT_BTSync_setup.pdf as appropriate.
  4. If you are using the LangTran Update method
    work through the steps in 2_LT_Update_setup.pdf, and you will be doing your first update straight away.
  5. If you are using the BTSync or Resilio Sync method,
    1. work through the steps in 2_LT_BTSync_setup.pdf to make the folders on your computer,
    2. copy the appropriate "key" (also called a "secret") to the clipboard,
    3. then follow directions there to go to the LangTran documentation website and download the BTSync program for your type of computer, (or get Resilio Sync)
    4. and use the key to start synchronization.
    5. Make a new folder for each key you want to use to get other kinds of installers.

if you want to mirror the repository so others can feed from yours:

  1. Work through the steps above, for ordinary users, setting up your repository on a NAS or similar device on your local LAN.
  2. Set up a system so that users can sync installers from your repository.
  3. If you would like help in setting it up, email Owner_LangTran at SIL dot org.


  1. Doug Higby developed a predecessor, LT_Toolbox, with a WikidPad front-end to describe the installers offered
  2. John Hatton, as a software developer, found that system took too much of his time to keep updated, so he set up an equivalent based on DropBox and called for discussion on the LTS email list.
  3. Dennis Pepler pointed out security concerns with DropBox, such as where an ordinary member's computer is stolen.
  4. I (Jim Henderson) researched cloud storage systems available at the time, and moved the system to, which provides read-only access to Groups for ordinary members and write access for Moderators. I also developed the update script, GetLangTranFiles, and made LangTran available for Linux, Mac and Windows software and systems.
  5. Matthew Lee suggested Ketarin as a way of keeping the repository at up-to-date. Developers no longer need to remember to put their software into the LangTran system -- Ketarin running on our central server notices when an installer has been updated, downloads it to our repository. We run this process every day.
  6. Richard Young became a co-administrator when I was in the village for a couple of months, and has broadened the scope of software made available via LangTran, to include large downloads such as antivirus definitions and system software. He did this to help people who have unreliable internet connections. He also included some software in major regional languages, and set up a mirror in Nigeria, so village workers there could get the installers via the LAN.
  7. Kurt Metzger set up replication to Ukarumpa, PNG, and Tim Sissel has done the same for some servers in Mexico.
  8. Doug Higby asked us to provide the BitTorrent Sync method as well as the Wuala method.
  9. When the Wuala company stopped providing free accounts at the end of 2014, I developed the LangTranUpdate script, so users could get the files free of charge from the LangTran server.
  10. When the Wuala company stopped their cloud storage service altogether in 2015, I removed that updating method from the documentation.
  11. The updater, Ketarin, is a Windows program, and we had been running it on our Linux server over the compatibility layer, WINE. This proved unreliable, and we are delighted that Tom Francis has ported the program to Linux, and it now runs reliably (2019).
  12. Sadly, Tom ran into problems with the compatibility layer for .NET programs, so we abandoned that approach and went back to running the standard Windows program over WINE, which now works well. (2023)

Support free, email author
Status Stable/Production
SIL Status Not evaluated
Runs on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android
Unicode compatible Yes
Features none listed
Interface language(s) English
Developed by
License Freeware (all uses)
Download page Overview diagram of how LangTran works, How to set up and use LangTran