re: Linux & Unicode

From: Nelson Minar (
Date: Thu Dec 03 1998 - 12:41:24 EST

Thanks for bringing this issue up, Glen.

"Glen" <> writes:
>I haven't had much luck and don't see much enthusiasm for Unicode in
>the Linux community.

Is this a problem of Linux? Or is it a problem of Unicode? Or both?

My guess is that most Linux hackers only work in one language, and
Linux already works for them OK in their language. The real strength
of Unicode is doing multilinguistic work, and I suspect that many of
the people writing Linux code just don't feel a need for using several
languages at once.

Forgive me for sounding anti-Unicode for a moment, but implementing
real Unicode seems like quite a challenge. Variable length character
coding, changing "char" and "char *" in all programs, dealing with
bidirectional rendering and combining glyphs: these are all
nontrivial things that take CPU, memory, and most of all design work.

What would really help the Linux community move to Unicode is if some
Unicode people got involved, helped the Linux developers figure out
the right path to integrating Unicode support into the system. Linux
is an international OS - if you sell it right, make it clear what
needs to happen and why it is interesting - then it will happen.

I also think "low" approaches to getting the basics of Unicode support
are a good idea to get people started. For instance, I think there's
real value in Roman Czyborra's work on producing a simple Unicode font
for X11 ( Sure, this doesn't solve the
problem, but it puts the shape of the problem in people's heads, and
appeals to hackers.

Finally, all is not lost. Java and Perl are both well on their way to
doing Unicode for real. I think it's mostly the C programmers that are
being left behind.

. . . . . . . .

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