> What is the purpose of including src/plugin-intl.h in the template?
> Does #include "plugin-intl.h" do something 
> that #include <libgimp/gimpintl.h> does not?

Yes, a lot! 

Actually plugin-intl.h as shipped with gimp-plugin-template is the 
equivalent to libgimp/std-plugins-intl.h which is included from all
plug-ins in the standard distribution.

plugin-intl.h includes <libgimp/gimpintl.h> and builds a wrapper 
around the basic internationalisation macros defined their. 
By including it you get two macros:

        INIT_I18N() and INIT_I18N_UI()

that do the dirty work of binding your application to the libgimp's
and its own textdomain. I'd suggest you take a short look into
plugin-intl.h, it should be self-explanatory.

> How are individual user installations supposed to work?  (is there a
> target that installs to ~/.gimp?)

I don't think so. Do we need to add that?

> are config.sub and guess necessary for most plug-ins?

AFAIK they are necessary if you want to use configure.

Salut, Sven

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