The quest for the mythical
Recently, Pete Zaitcev wrote in passing:
Now if only someone designed a UTF-8 locale which did not screw the ordering files in ls output...
What he said. I've come to realize that what I want what I'll call the
C.UTF-8' locale: all of the old-fashioned Unix non-locale behavior,
but with non-ASCII characters encoded in UTF-8. I don't mind UTF-8 too
much and it's clearly the future, but I don't want anything else that
gets bundled up as a 'locale', and I especially don't want crazy
Having spelunked glibc info docs and done some experimentation, there are several useful environment variables for achieving something like this:
LC_CTYPEsets the output and input character encoding, although some programs have their own overrides that may also need fiddling (eg,
LC_COLLATEsets the collation order, which controls how
ls(and the shell's
echoand so on) order files, among other annoyances.
LC_MESSAGESsets what language messages appear in. It does not appear to set an implicit default output character encoding, so you must set
LC_CTYPEas well for anything that needs non-ASCII characters.
LANG sets global values for these, overridden by the more specific
LC_ALL sets all of them, overriding everything else.
Linux glibc is smart enough to convert from message character encodings
to output character encodings, even for relatively complicated things
like Chinese error messages. On the other hand, it's kind of daunting
to think about how much code gets invoked when
ls prints an error
(I observe in passing that it's very handy to have a graphical program that deals only in UTF-8 and some UTF-8 files when testing this sort of thing. That way you can be sure that things really are generating UTF-8 or are in a UTF-8 display mode.)
I currently run with no
LANG et al set, because of past concerns (and because I only work in English, so I can
get away with it). Having looked at all this, it's tempting to set
LC_CTYPE and step into the modern UTF-8 world. In theory it would
be transparent (xterm and vi and GNU Emacs and so on seem to correctly
switch into UTF-8 mode without further poking), and it'd mean I'd stop
seeing vaguely mangled manpages every time I ssh into a normal modern
Comments on this page:Written on 08 November 2006.