Re: Unicode, I18N and Linux

From: Robert Brady (
Date: Fri Oct 01 1999 - 16:51:39 EDT

On Thu, 30 Sep 1999 wrote:

>Can anybody give me a brief summary of the current state of
>affairs for Linux with regard to currently available levels of
>support for Unicode and for i18n in general, as well as of what
>work is currently being done to improve support?

Most things are currently waiting for the imminent release of glibc2.2,
which should implement all the ISO C and POSIX widecharacter and multibyte
character functions. This will provide the the base to convert all
the GNU utilities.

Some work is being done independently of this :

  * more terminal emulators are supporting utf-8. xterm, gnome-terminal
    do this, and I believe support is planned for KDE's "konsole". The
    console and tty driver's utf-8 support will be improved.

  * some apps are being converted. there are patches against pine and tin
    to add limited utf-8 support, probably more apps of this type (that
    deal with MIME messages and thus have to deal with characterset conversion
    anyway), will be converted in the near future.

  * a family of fixed width iso10646-1 fonts for X11 have been prepared.
    These will be in XFree86 4.0.

  * Unicode support for GTK+1.4 is planned by the maintainer.
    <>. Depending on when this
    is ready, GNOME may move to this...

  * QT2 has Unicode support, thus KDE2 will.

  * editors :
      xemacs already supports utf-8 in a limited fashion with an add-on.
      emacs is going to move to utf-8 internally in the medium to long-term.
      vim will probably have support for utf-8.
      utf-8 support for pico I shall start on soon.

  * other programs :
      miscellaneous other programs have utf-8 support. lynx, for example,
      (although it is slightly broken with ncurses lynx).

Some good URLs are

  Markus Kuhn's "UTF-8 and Unicode FAQ for Unix/Linux"

  Bruno Haible's "Unicode HOWTO"

  which contains links to many already existing patches.

We have a mailing list "linux-utf8", which you can subscribe to by sending
mail to with the line "subscribe linux-utf8" in the
body. The archive is at <>.

Recently a website at <> seems to have sprung into
being, claiming to be the "Linux Internationalisation Initiative". Who
these people are, and if they plan to actually contribute code, is
unknown to me.


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